Nike- Ethical Issues

Topics: International Labour Organization, Ethics, Industrial Revolution Pages: 5 (1448 words) Published: October 19, 2012
Ethical Case Analysis:



Nike was established in 1972 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. These two men were visionaries. The goal for Nike was to carry on Bowerman’s legacy of innovative thinking by helping every athlete reach their goal or by creating lucrative business opportunities that would set the company apart from any competition. This included providing quality work environments for all who were employed by Nike. However, Nike has long been eluding allegations of employing people in the developing and under-developed economies, at low wages and poor working conditions for a long time. Nike tried many different measures of correcting its image as well many public relations measures to help salvage the image the public had of them after images of Nike employees working in sweatshops were released. In this essay, we will look at Nike’s international business operations and analyze the ethical issues and dilemmas they are faced with as a result of manufacturing their goods on foreign soil. Areas of Concern

Some areas of concern for Nike include poor working conditions, low wages, child labor, as well as health concerns in the factories. These are all areas of concern where ethics is involved. Ethics is the generic term for the science of our morals. The executives at Nike have been accused of many ethical dilemmas. For example, poor working conditions in factories that produce Nike products has been one big issue plaguing the company for years. Nike outsources their labor to countries that are in need of economic growth. They are able to obtain the labor at a cheap, and some may say, unfair rate. This causes workers to be exposed to working conditions that would be far below what we would accept here in the US or any developed country in the world. These workers are faced with long grueling hours, some as long as sixty five hours per week, this according to the NY Times. Employees at this particular factory were located in Vietnam. (Greenhouse, NY Times) Working all those hours and only bringing home $10 USD a week. The employees endure this type of treatment because they are desperate for the little money they earn. This brings me into my next point of concern, low wages. Nike contracts all their manufacturing to developing or third world countries. Even though the countries wages are lower than our own here in the US, Nike fails to provide wages to workers at a rate in which they can sustain themselves and their families. Because of this, cheap labor is exploited and many workers are treated poorly. Some workers earning these low wages were children as young as early and preteens. Deplorable working conditions have lasting effects on employees. Many employees experienced skin and breathing problems in those factories. Just because you are operating in a country that is not up to the standards of the United States, does not make it ethically okay to subject your employees to conditions that are unacceptable. Current Analysis

One can speculate as to why Nike would be involved in such a Hodge podge of ethical dilemmas. Could it be because they are not operating in the US and feel as though they should not abide by the ethical standards and OSHA requirements set forth in our country? Is it that the upper management has something to gain personally from outsourcing its labor to under developed countries? Should our government step in and be able to regulate how the factories and workers are treated on foreign soil?

I do believe Nike was socially responsible for its actions. When the allegations came to light in the public eye, there was a lot of backlash regarding them. Nike joined a task force called fair job labor association to review the allegations made against them. This was to help ensure that Nike was abiding by the ethics code in the shoe and clothing industry. Since the...
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