Nike Paves Way for Equality

BETRUE-HRC

(Ed. note: Nike sent PQ Monthly an additional statement after we went to press. It is included verbatim after our initial story.)

By Matt Pizzuti, PQ Monthly

Businesses, small and large, play a powerful role in the struggle for equality — not just by affecting the lives of their employees and consumers, but also as influencers of policy and culture.

One company that ranks among the best nationwide as an advocate for equality and inclusion comes from our own backyard in Beaverton, Oregon. Nike, the company with the mission to bring “inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” (and that means everyone), not only stands up for its LGBTQ workers but has a message of inclusion for all.

That’s especially valuable to us in a company that stands as the cultural force that Nike is, with an iconic level of brand recognition, partnerships with world-famous athletes and sponsorships with hundreds of teams and athletic events. And, as a brand that is central to the world of sports, Nike has been making waves in industries that have often been slow to respond to the changing times for LGBTQ people.

In 2014, Nike paved the way for making it easier for LGBTQ athletes to come out, promising to endorse any major league player who did. And that’s exactly what happened when NBA player Jason Collins announced he is gay, and then signed a deal with Nike.

Nike scores a perfect 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, has been lauded for offering a transgender-inclusive healthcare plan and is the creator of the Be True line to support the LGBT Sports Coalition.

Nike’s CEO Mark Parker criticized Indiana’s so-called ‘religious freedom law’ passed into law this spring — a law that essentially introduced a right to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious grounds, before the law was updated by Indiana’s legislature.

“Nike proudly stands for inclusion for all,” Parker said in an official statement. “We believe laws should treat people equally and prevent discrimination. Nike has led efforts alongside other businesses to defeat discriminatory laws in Oregon and opposes the new law in Indiana which is bad for our employees, bad for our consumers, bad for business and bad for society as a whole,” he said.

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STATEMENT

Nike has long supported the LGBT community, including the recognition of same-sex civil marriage, domestic partnerships and workplace non-discrimination.

Diversity drives innovation and allows companies like Nike to attract and retain world class talent.

We are fully supportive of initiatives to create marriage equality so our employees are treated fairly and with respect in the workplace and the community. This includes:

  • The 2012 amicus brief sent to the Supreme Court supporting the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, ending marriage discrimination and enabling the recognition of same-sex civil marriage.
  • Serving as one of the signatories on a 2015 amicus brief sent to the Supreme Court in March, pressing for marriage equality.
  • Support for the push for marriage equality in Oregon in 2013.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion and strive to treat our employees equally. For many years, Nike has offered equal benefits to Nike has offered equal benefits to spouses and dependent partners (same and opposite sex).

Along with our LGBT and Friends Employee Network — which aims to increase awareness and understanding of Nike’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community through educational and supportive events, and to demonstrate Nike’s commitment to diversity through outreach to the local, national and global LGBT community — Nike has partnered with the LGBT community on a number of initiatives. The latest is the the #BeTrue collection: footwear and apparel collection inspired and in support of the LGBT community. Profits from the collection go to the LGBT Sports Coalition.

[Re: PQ’s] Inquiry about Indiana:

NIKE proudly stands for inclusion for all. We believe laws should treat people equally and prevent discrimination, and encourages the State of Indiana to change its law to assure that it is not facilitating discrimination or creating the perception that the State condones or allows discrimination.