Corporate Social Responsibility at Nike

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The Development of CSR at Nike:

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The development of CSR in Nike emanates from creation of a Board-Level CSR committee that launches programs from the private and internal departments into the mainstream. The committee looks into programs around product recycling, water usage and toxicity of substances in the manufacturing process. The development further turns to integration of CSR into operations where the above tasks are actualized through the boards. The evolving role of the Board CR Committee that sits at the apex of the CSR department finally tasks itself with policy making matters pertinent to the companys CSR roles and objectives. A look into the companys CSR history sheds light on the road to its development from a small department to a robust sector of the company.

History of CSR at Nike:

The history of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Nike dates back in the 1990, notably when there was a wave of criticism directed to the company over its labor prices, mostly at contract factories. The trend made Nike products the companys brand image with its key consumers, who were mostly college students. Its critics mostly alleged that workers in the contracts factories had been subjected to gross inhumane treatment characterized through poor and untimely payment, poor working conditions and harassment by the management team. In response to the critics, the management team refuted all the claims that had been levelled against them citing that they were not responsible over any action of its suppliers. They further asserted that the prevailing working conditions and wages should only be evaluated in the context of manufacturing countries, non-measurable against standards in the U.S. In fact, the managements perception was that the critics belonged to the class of radical troublemakers and activists who saw no essence of contract factories.

The start of 1998 signified a drastic change in the companys approach. The shift was firstly signified by the hiring of Maria Eitel from Microsoft as the countrys Vice President of the companys corporate responsibility. Eitels approach was an outstanding scheme to first consolidate the community affairs department, environmental action team and labor practices. Eitels goal culminated into the merging of all these departments to form one department which is the corporate social responsibility department. He began by tasking himself into forming a strategic framework that addressed issues that affected the company. He also convened a meeting with Global Exchange, which was one of Nikes most outspoken critics. The significant actions that were lauded included the introduction of a section of corporate responsibility into the companys annual report to shareholders, along with the environmental action team. It is through this venture that they reached a decision to phase out PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) use at the factories. Through this initiative, the call for reduction of use of hazardous chemicals came into play, prompting the establishment of Road to Zero campaign.

Solutions to the Road to Zero Campaign:

The Road to zero campaign is one of the noblest courses that has ever found root in Nikes CSR scheme. In one of the many efforts to alleviate hazardous chemicals from all water sources the campaign needs to expand its networks to incorporate other organizations that share the similar efforts the company has. One such example is the partnership with the Greenpeace organization. With the Greenpeace organization coming on board, adequate sensitization of responsible water use in areas of acute toxic discharges. Nile Water Program that would enable the solution to the 10-25% reduction in water use, CO2 emission by 2015. The solution lying herein points out to the need to focus on the use of environmentally preferable in the manufacture of footwear. Amidst all these efforts put in place to assure the society of a reduced-toxic levels in the environment, great challenges to the campaign still exist.

Challenges faced by Nike in actualizing their campaign goals:

There are challenges experienced from consultation process but the CR committee seeks to identify the various technicalities that come with actualization of achieving zero discharge of hazardous wastes. The committee firstly identifies the efforts to alleviating the condition as a challenge in itself. They also allege that it would take a longer time to test and prove the various innovations put in place to witness the results. The project would also face the challenge of limited finances in acquiring the necessary resources in terms of time, talent and technology. Ideological differences between the various departments of the company would definitely slow down the prospects of the Road to Zero campaign. However, the Board CR committee advocates for a research-oriented kind of approach to the campaign.

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