With racial injustice and inequality unfortunately a fixture in our day-to-day, and a mirror to just how ugly we’ve become as Americans, the effects are being felt in every aspect of U.S. culture. Not only do these killings and acts of violence emotionally hinder you and I, but also many of the very people who curate the culture we hold so dear.
Nike’s Mark Parker isn’t immune to these hard times that often come at the hands of police killings of black bodies. Following the slaying of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the mass shootings of police officers in Dallas, Parker penned a touching letter to Nike employees to not only express how he felt about equality and the importance of black lives, but equally how Nike endears blacks as a whole.
Like many of you, I’m struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible. We have experienced heartbreaking, disturbing and challenging times in the United States. I have watched with sorrow the events that took place across the U.S. The loss and pain experienced in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas have left communities, institutions and even the nation tested. Our thoughts are with all those impacted and their families and friends.
Nike has a long history of supporting the marginalized and those whose voice is not always heard. In many cases our athletes have eloquently argued for change and to stop the situation. Last night, at the ESPYs, we heard athletes like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul powerfully speak out about the issues facing society. Others, like Serena Williams, have also made their voices heard.
As a company, I’m proud that Nike takes a stand on issues that impact all of us, our athletes and society as a whole. And I am proud that Nike stands against discrimination in any form. We stand against bigotry. We stand for racial justice. We firmly believe the world can improve. We are a diverse company and, as we stated in our recent Sustainable Business Report, are firmly committed to making it more diverse and inclusive.
We cannot solve all these profound, longstanding and systemic issues. However, one thing will always be clear: discrimination in any form and racial injustice are destructive forces. And talking about these issues can help find peace and paths forward. I firmly believe we are at our best when we engage and listen to those around us, in our communities at home and at work. It’s impossible to leave our emotions and experiences outside the work place – they inform us and make us who we are.
We don’t have the answers, but it’s important to try to talk about the issues we’re facing. Antoine Andrews, VP of Diversity and Inclusion, will work with the North American leadership team in the coming weeks to help facilitate meetings at WHQ and in our NY, Chicago and LA offices to allow us to talk about what we are facing together. Conversations don’t solve everything, but dialogue will help. Our voices matter. This is your company and we want you to be heard.
In difficult times, it’s important to speak up. We cannot change the past, but we can impact the future.
Chairman, President and CEO, NIKE, Inc.