- Nike is moving fairly quickly to replace the many executives who have left in recent weeks amid revelations of improper conduct and a toxic work environment. The company last week promoted Amy Montagne to vice president and general manager of global categories, replacing Jayme Martin, the Portland Business Journal reports.
- Additionally, the company promoted Kellie Leonard to chief diversity and inclusion officer, Nike confirmed in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. Leonard replaces Antoine Andrews, who had been Nike’s vice president of diversity and inclusion and whose departure was also part of the exodus in recent weeks. Leonard will report to Monique Matheson, the company’s human resources chief, according to the Portland Business Journal report.
- The diversity and inclusion position is being elevated to the C-suite, making Leonard Nike's first vice president and chief diversity officer, the company said. Leonard has worked at Nike for 15 years, including as vice president of corporate and employee communications. In an emailed statement Matthew Kneller, Nike's director, global corporate communications said Leonard "is a highly respected leader with strong relationships across the company and she’s committed to strengthening and investing [in] our Employee Networks to help drive essential change at Nike."
Nike has seen a wave of recent departures, and an increasing amount of attention is being paid in the press to the company's work environment, even as the company takes steps to address its culture problem. The company could face some serious challenges if it fails to repair the damage to its brand, particularly as it looks to court female customers. In March, the company announced several initiatives to appeal more to women.
Over the weekend the New York Times published a detailed story of how in recent years women have suffered sexual harassment, obstacles to career advancement and weak or inappropriate responses from human resources when they filed complaints. Top female executives have left the company in frustration, according to the Times.
The culture described in the Times report has come to light in recent weeks. Earlier this month Nike's EVP, Global Human Resources Matheson, herself a 19-year veteran of Nike and former VP, chief talent and diversity officer wrote an internal company memo asserting that Nike "has failed to gain traction” in its ongoing effort to hire and promote women and minorities. At the time, Matheson said in comments emailed to Retail Dive that the results in the company memo showed "that we need to accelerate representation of women and people of color at leadership levels within the company."
That internal report arrived amid turmoil in Nike’s top ranks that had already propelled the exit last month of not only Andrews and Martin but also Trevor Edwards, the president of the Nike brand and the executive widely seen as CEO Mark Parker’s successor. In a conference call with analysts last month Parker sought to assure analysts that he will now stay beyond 2020 as chief executive, longer than had been planned, and that the company was taking steps at the top to address the issue.
Although these issues may be particularly acute for Nike, considering how it's long prided itself on having an enlightened corporate culture, such problems are rampant in retail in general — turnover rates in business leadership positions are far higher for women (31%) than for men (24.1%), and that’s particularly true at retail and consumer goods companies, according to research from The Network of Executive Women. Attrition rates globally across other sectors are 8% to 10% annually.