Nike Breaks New Ground In Communication Transparency

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Communicating on corporate responsibility doesn’t get more transparent than this. The Financial Times reports …

Today Nike breaks a three-year silence on social reporting as it publishes its 2004 corporate responsibility report. This is Nike’s first report since a 2002 California supreme court ruling that the company could be sued by Mark Kasky, a labour rights activist, over statements it made about its labour practices. But that is not all: the sports equipment company has also broken new ground in transparency by publishing a complete list of suppliers on its website.

Financial Times | Nike makes the step to transparency (paid subscription required)

Nike also issued a press release yesterday about their report. Fluffy corporate speak doesn’t detract from the significant news value of what Nike announced, as founder and chairman Philip H. Knight says in the introduction to the corporate responsibility report:

We’ve been fairly quiet for the past three years in Corporate Responsibility because of the Kasky lawsuit. So we’re using this report to play a little catch-up and draw a more complete picture. It makes for a long report, but I urge you to read it from cover to cover. And then some: because probably the most significant piece of disclosure linked to this report is actually on our Web site. It’s a listing of all factories that produce Nike-branded products, worldwide.

Not only that, Nike says it is soliciting direct feedback on its report. That’s transparency.

By the way, you have to love how Knight describes his current role at Nike:

My job is to listen to ideas, maybe cook up a few of my own, and make decisions based on what’s good for the shareholders and for the company.

Download the report (PDF) from Nike’s website.

Fellow communicator Allan Jenkins wrote an excellent analysis of Nike and the Kasky lawsuit from the PR perspective in a 6-page article for the April-May 2003 issue of Communication World, IABC’s magazine for members. If you’re an IABC member, you can download the PDF of that article from IABC’s website.

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

Nike Breaks New Ground In Communication Transparency
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