It’s Women’s History Month, How’s Your Company’s Performative Activism? |

IT-блоги It’s Women’s History Month, How’s Your Company’s Performative Activism?

biznology 31 марта 2021 г. Lisen Stromberg

Did y’all see it? It’s breathtaking.

Look at us in all our glory. We’re boxing, surfing, running, biking, weight-lifting, and doing yoga, lots of yoga!, all while supremely, stunningly pregnant. 

Nike nailed it. The ad (launched, of course, during Women’s History Month) to promote Nike’s new maternity line is winning praise here, there, everywhere.

Glamour called it “empowering”, Motherly said, “We love it!”, the twittersphere was agog: “BEST AD EVER!”.

As a younger woman, I would have clamored up onto my soapbox like so many others and cheered. As an older woman, not so much.

Call me jaded, but I can’t cheer for a company that just a few years ago had a policy of punishing their pregnant athletes. You may remember in a 2019 New York Times op-ed, Olympic champion Allyson Felix shared that Nike slashed her pay 70 percent after she underwent an emergency C-section at 32 weeks pregnant due to severe, life-threatening preeclampsia. In another NYT op-ed, Olympian Olympian Alysia Montaño wrote, “Nike told me to dream crazy, until I wanted a baby.” 

I also can’t cheer for a company that is in the midst of a class action pay equity lawsuit brought on by nearly 500 of their female executives. A company that tolerated a culture so toxic its male supervisors were allowed to publicly discuss women’s bodies, call them “stupid bitch” – oh, and did I mention pay them unfairly? It took an anonymous employee-led survey to bring this behavior to light and eventually resulted in the overthrow of a cabal of male leaders at Nike who supported each other’s success, but not the success of women.

As one female executive who has since left Nike said, “Many of my peers and I reported incidences and a culture that were uncomfortable, disturbing, threatening, unfair, gender-biased and sexist — hoping that something would change that would make us believe in Nike again.”

So how do we believe in Nike and all of the other companies that are finally being called to task for their toxic cultures, their performative activism, their claims of doing right, while doing wrong?

The answer is to become a HEARTI:Workplace. What’s a HEARTI Workplace? It’s one that is founded in humility, empathy, accountability, resiliency, transparency, and inclusivity. What does that look like? Here are a few examples…


Admit the mistake. No human, no company is perfect. But being willing to say, “We were wrong, we’ll do better next time” is foundational to earning our trust.

Nike has yet to say, “We made a mistake. We shouldn’t have done that.” Their lack of humility then and their current land-grab to be the athletic gear for pregnant women festers doubt and is the key reason there is a growing tide of negative response to the ad on social media.

The good news is they may not have publicly acknowledged their mistake, but they are doing something. In 2019, Nike announced they will “not apply any performance-related reduction” for 18 months if an athlete becomes pregnant.” It’s a step in the right direction, but a little humility would go a long way to healing broken trust. 


Let’s be perfectly clear: You can’t be a thriving 21st century workplace unless you embed inclusivity into every aspect of your governance, culture, and leadership. 

Ground-breaking advertising? Fantastic. Performative activism. Not so much. The multitude of anti-racist statements and commitments made from companies across the US is laudable, but only time will tell if inclusivity across all stakeholders actually changes. Nike has taken the first steps to be more inclusive for the pregnant athletes it sponsors and the female customers it wants to attract and retain. The employee experience? Only time will tell, but the world is watching to see if the commitments made result in a different employee experience. 

Be well, stay well, lead on! 


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Источник: biznology

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