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Nike Under Fire as Hundreds of Employees Protest Over Treatment of Women

— December 12, 2019

Earlier this week, hundreds of Nike employees protested against the company’s treatment of women.

Nike recently came under fire over its treatment of women when hundreds of the company’s employees decided to hold a protest at Nike’s Beaverton, Ore. Headquarters. During the protest, employees “distributed fliers that warned employees against speaking to the press.” The same employees also said the protest was designed to “celebrate what women bring to sport and to champion equality.” It’s important to note that while the protest was not sanctioned by the sports apparel company, “several senior executives joined the employees and engaged them in a dialogue.”

Track runners
Track runners; image courtesy of Free-Photos via Pixabay,

The protest earlier this week comes nearly a month after an op-ed ran in the New York Times about the company’s treatment of women. The op-ed was written by runner Mary Cain and “highlighted the obstacles female athletes have faced while training with Alberto Salazar.” For those who don’t know, Salazar is a three-time New York Marathon winner that was hired by Nike to “head up a program known as the the Nike Oregon Project to shape elite distance-running talent.” That program has since been disbanded, largely due to Salazar’s alleged treatment of female athletes. In her op-ed, Cain described some of her encounters with the coach. According to her, when she first arrived at Nike for training, the “all-male staff, including Salazar, told her she needed to be thinner and thinner and thinner if she wanted to improve as a runner.” Additionally, she claimed she was “emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto [Salazar] and endorsed by Nike.”

While the protest was going on, Cain tweeted photos of many of the protesters holding signs that read ’empower women,’ ‘we believe in Mary,’ and ‘do the right thing.’ Additionally, she said she hopes the protest and her op-ed motivate Nike to bring in a third party to investigate Salazar, even though the company had already launched an investigation into him and the Oregon Project in response to the allegations of body-shaming. When commenting on the matter a month ago, a Nike spokesperson said, “These allegations are completely inconsistent with our values.”

This isn’t the first time Nike has come under fire for its treatment of women, though. In fact, back in May two former runners, Kara Goucher and Alysia Montano, stepped forward with allegations that their contracts were cut during their pregnancies. Also, the company was sued back in August 2018 over allegations that Nike “systematically discriminated against women and fostered a hostile work environment.”


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