March 25, 2013
Nike: The Sweatshop Debate
Nike, the world’s largest and leading innovator in athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment, is considered to be the quintessential global corporation. The company was founded in 1972 by Phil Knight, a former track star from the University of Oregon. Their company logo, “Just Do It”, has become one of the most recognizable marketing phrases throughout the world as well as their celebrity sponsors, which include Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, are also some of the most recognizable athletes. In 2006, Nike employed an estimated 650,000 people in 600 different factories scattered throughout the globe and had an annual revenue of …show more content…
From a cultural perspective, Andrew Young, a Nike representative for working conditions, stated although Nike was doing a good job in treating its workers, they could in fact do a better job. The pay and conditions however were appropriate for what the culture was accustomed to. Many human rights activist and labor groups disagreed with the analysis which quickly became a critical debate.
To show that they were being compliant, Nike joined a presidential task force in hopes of finding a way to banish sweatshops completely. The task force then established an independent monitoring association called the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to evaluate whether companies are abiding by the code. Protest still continued, many which were on university campuses, and the major force behind these protests was the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). They claimed that the FLA was not a true independent auditor and was nothing more than an industry tool. As a response, the USAS set up the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), which was to be an alternative independent auditing organization.
Though Nike continues to be the leader in athletic footwear and apparel, they have been the center of an ongoing investigation and criticism for more than a decade on the working conditions of their so-called “sweatshop” factories around the globe. The company still has quite a bit of internal investigating to do for the subcontracted facilities throughout the globe and