Does #MeToo offer a culture-building opportunity?
Citing the need to support its culture, Nike last week dismissed two executives amid workforce complaints.
Sources told The Wall Street Journal that both executives — Trevor Edwards, Nike Brand president, and Jayme Martin, VP and general manager of global categories for Nike Brand — “protected male subordinates who engaged in behavior that was demeaning to female colleagues.”
In a memo sent to employees last Thursday, CEO Mark Parker wrote that over the last few weeks Nike has become “aware of reports occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment at a time when we are accelerating our transition to the next stage of growth and advance of our culture. This disturbs and saddens me.”
Mr. Parker stated that he was “determined to make the necessary changes so that our culture and our company can evolve and grow.”
Nike is reviewing its internal HR system, and has provided employees with a confidential e-mail and phone number to call if they feel threatened.
At least publicly, the #MeToo movement has largely impacted Hollywood, but its effects are being felt elsewhere.
At retail, Lululemon’s former CEO, Laurent Potdevin, resigned in early March due to an inappropriate relationship with a female designer and accusations of favoritism. Similar to Nike, Glenn Murphy, Lululemon’s executive chairman, said, “Culture is at the core of Lululemon, and it is the responsibility of leaders to set the right tone in our organization.”
Also in February, Guess creative director Paul Marciano stepped down after being accused of harassment by the supermodel Kate Upton.
A February survey of recruiters from Boston recruiting marketplace Scout Exchange found greater interest in hiring and promoting female executives in part due to the #MeToo movement.
But some articles exploring a potential #MeToo backlash have speculated that the movement may hurt female advancement by making males nervous about how to behave around women. Some firms are said to want to avoid complications that can result from a potential inter-office relationship or accusations from a vengeful former staffer.
- Nike Investigates Workplace Complaints, Says No. 2 Executive Resigns – The Wall Street Journal
- Nike president Trevor Edwards resigns as company alludes to workplace issues – ESPN
- Did Nike’s ‘Frat Boy Culture’ Lead to the Departures of Two Executives? – Racked
- lululemon athletica inc. CEO Laurent Potdevin Resigns – Lululemon
- Lululemon CEO left in part because of relationship with female designer at the company – CNBC
- In wake of #MeToo, a growing interest in hiring and promoting female executives – The Boston Globe
- Is #MeToo Backlash Hurting Women’s Opportunities in Finance? – Harvard Business Review
- A male backlash against #MeToo is brewing – New York Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons should retailers be taking from the #MeToo movement? What should corporate management do to support female employees?
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6 Comments on "Does #MeToo offer a culture-building opportunity?"
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Chief Executive Officer, The TSi Company
Vice President Retail, Tori Richard Principal, Osorio Group LLC, dba JAM with Mike®
First, kudos to the RetailWire editors for having the courage to put a controversial issue out for discussion on this platform.
I think the most important thing for retailers is to recognize the importance of creating dialogue about these real issues. Most people (even most of the men who may be guilty of saying and doing inappropriate things) want to do the right thing, but don’t know how to talk about it. This is no different than any other industry, except for the larger than average % of women in much of the retail industry. Whether inappropriate behavior, lack of gender or racial diversity, or the backlash to the #metoo movement, the only way forward is through dialogue.
This is an amazing opportunity for retail executives and boards to finally break through the challenges of seeing real positive change, vs. only words of intention. But it will only happen through honest dialogue and real action. The most important action is to call out bad behavior when you see it, and never ever do it yourself.
Managing Director, GlobalData
I am not sure this is a marketing opportunity. I just think all companies should have policies that allow all individuals to be treated with dignity.
As for males who don’t know how to behave around female colleagues, here’s an acid test: behave how you’d want others to behave around your wife, daughter or mother. It’s not difficult; it’s basic right and wrong stuff!
All companies, not just retailers, must have a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior. Sadly my own mother has shared horror stories of how she was treated years ago in many male dominated workplaces, and fired when she complained! It is unfathomable to me how disrespected and abused women like my mother have been treated at work.
You must give people a safe place to report any incidents and make sure they don’t just report it to one person alone in a room where they feel intimidated. Most women are still afraid to lose their jobs for speaking up.
This isn’t complicated. RESPECT WOMEN! Hire consultants and have a mandatory appropriate behavior class for every single member of your company! We sadly can’t fix the poor behavior that went on in the past, but we can change the future.
Global Retail & CPG Sales Strategist, IBM
Working in a company that blazed the trail for women earlier than most any corporation, I can say I am proud to be with an organization that values all employees for their contributions. Treat women, minorities … EVERYONE as you would like to be treated. Don’t do or say anything to a colleague that you wouldn’t do or say to your spouse. Management must lead by example and ensure no favoritism for ANY employee.
CFO, Weisner Steel
Retail and politics — business and politics, really — seldom mix. The only thing they should be “taking” from this, hopefully, is a sense of relief that they weren’t condoning such things.