Nike Unethical Practices

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The declaration by Philip H Knight that he would discontinue financial aid to the University of Oregon was a major issue that attracted the attention of the world media. That Mr. Knight had chosen to cut links with his alma mater was an issue that was greatly analyzed not just because of the business compulsions that hid behind the decision, but because the issue was important to understand the attitude of multinational companies towards business ethics. custom essays Analysis

Nike was under international pressure from various communities and non-governmental organizations on the issue of practicing unethical business tactics to enhance profits. For example Nike, which outsources most of its manufacturing tasks to other companies, had to face stiff public censure for possibly encouraging labor practices that provided very little compensation to the workers. Most of Nike’s shoe and apparel manufacturing units are situated in the Asian region where the labor costs are far less when compared to rates in the US. Additionally, the workers in the Asian region are less organized, are constrained to work at lower wages in order to overcome poverty and familial pressures, and so were easily available even if the conditions in the factories were pathetic according to US labor standards. The main issue that often came in for public criticism was that Nike used the services of ladies who could be paid much less in the Asian job markets. Similarly, the peculiar societal culture in the Asian region ensured that large numbers of ladies were available to take up the jobs offered by Nike's business associates in these countries. Another serious allegation which rocked the business prospects of the company was that Nike's business counterparts in Pakistan used child laborers to make footballs. The fact that child labor is banned and considered unethical in the developed nations was a major factor that turned public opinion against the company. The factories that partnered with Nike also paid much less attention to safety standards of its workers. While their American counterparts attended to research and development activities in the relative safety of their offices in the US, the contract workers were exposed to chemicals and strong scents in very hot and humid conditions. The chemicals with which they dealt were quite harmful to the body and could pose serious diseases that affected the skin, lungs and even the reproductive organs. That the workers paid scant respect to the insufficient safety procedures in the factories pointed to the fact that they were either not informed of the harmful effects of the chemicals, or they were much less concerned for safety when faced with the question of their livelihood. Either way it was plain exploitation of cheap labor and abundant manpower. The ill treatment of workers who often had to work under great mental pressure in the factories was also a great concern that attracted media attention. Workers, especially women, were often rebuked and even assaulted by their supervisors and they had to work for long hours in order to keep their jobs. Often women had to commit to extra hours of unpaid duty in order to confirm to the strict productivity requirements within the company. The pay parity in the companies was also a very big issue when compared with the American standards. The stakeholders of the company and the general public of the United States were particularly peeved at the fact that women had to put in long hours of work in exchange for a pittance for their efforts. In short, Nike’s manufacturing units witnessed human exploitation and economic opportunism that provided rich dividends to the company. The company on the contrary maintained that it was only outsourcing its manufacturing operations to the Asian firms and that the situation in these companies was not under its direct control. However, the public debate and alienation directed against the company was mounting...
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