According to extensive reporting from The Oregonian, Nike’s dismissal early this year of 11 execs was more than fallout from workplace behavior shortfalls stemming from the #MeToo moment. The article describes the exits as a “dramatic boardroom power play” led by Mark Parker, CEO and company co-founder Phil Knight to oust Trevor Edwards and many of those aligned with him.
Jeff Manning, the reporter, writes in the 2728-word article based on interviews with present and former Nike employees, “This was a surgical removal of a discredited senior executive and his team more than it was a broad house cleaning of misbehaving managers, observers say.”
The suddenness of the exits appeared to have been due in part to the #MeToo moment. A group of female middle managers circulated a survey to female employees exploring workplace conditions and advancement opportunities. The group was motivated by a Nike proclamation about pay-equity accomplishments.
Their findings were presented to Parker on March 6, and Nike announced that Edwards was out as Nike Brand president on March 15. Edwards, who has assumed a consultant role, was expected to be the next CEO after Parker finished his term, but he will retire officially in August. Most of the other exits that happened after were employees who worked under Edwards when he headed marketing.
According to The Oregonian, however, Edwards was “already on thin ice” with Knight, Parker and Nike’s overall board due to slowed growth that occurred in the 2016 and 2017 period, changes to marketing and other morale issues.
Knight didn’t like Edward’s abrupt move to lessen the role of Wieden+Kennedy, the Portland ad agency that came up with “Just Do It,” according to the report. Knight also felt Edwards’ push to collaborate with designers and pop stars in marketing ran counter to Nike’s heritage focus on sports and athletes. Finally, some long-time Nike insiders felt Edwards and his team were establishing a culture that was authoritative and less open to exploring new ideas.
Read the full story here.