Just Do It...A Few Weeks Later: An update to last week’s Nike story (PRN, May 1). As we told you, the story of 6 senior male executives--including the heir apparent to CEO Mark Parker--leaving abruptly and without much explanation was fodder for sports and athletic apparel trades for weeks. Once the mass media (namely the NY Times) expanded the story by exposing Nike’s culture as one where women were harassed routinely and prevented from advancing in their careers, Nike seems to have taken more notice. The Times’ story (April 28) also told of an informal survey of female employees that landed on Parker’s desk March 5. That’s when male heads began to roll.
...Just Starting to Do It: Last week we learned two women replaced some of the departed men. Two weeks ago Nike promoted Amy Montagne to VP/GM, global categories; Kellie Leonard last week was named chief diversity and inclusion officer and the position was elevated to C-suite status. The latest peace offering was Parker’s May 3 speech to employees. Once again, Nike’s actions were less than transparent, with employees reportedly receiving an email May 3 summoning them to a town hall that day, though the subject of the meeting was not revealed to them. We say reportedly because again Nike did this behind closed doors. We know of Parker’s remarks via a recording sent to the NY Times May 4. The next day Nike relented, sending the newspaper a transcript. Parker told employees the departure of senior execs is nearly complete. He also apologized for missing signs of discontent in the ranks and vowed to make changes to compensation and training programs. As the Times wrote, “Parker’s measured and occasionally meandering comments solicited little audible reaction, other than a round of applause after he thanked everyone who came forward with complaints.” Was that accurate? Who knows? By not being transparent Nike invited the Times to tell its story, so it must accept the paper’s interpretation of events.
Also Slow Footed:Speaking of updates, more details emerged about ousted veteran NY Times’ Metro editor Wendell Jamieson (PRN, May 1). A less-than-transparent Times allowed a staffer to cover the story and she reported at least three female employees accused Jamieson of inappropriate behavior. Initially the paper refused to provide details of Jamieson’s exit. It did so, sources say now, to protect the women involved.
Winterkorn’s Woes:You might have seen U.S. authorities in Detroit last week charged former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn related to the dieselgate scandal, which first made headlines in summer 2015. The charges accuse the former CEO of knowing of the plan to install cheating software in cars. Initially VW said the CEO was in the dark. The indictments, unsealed May 3, scotch such notions. Plans to cheat went “all the way to the top of the company,” U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions said May 3. While it’s unlikely Winterkorn will be extradited to face charges, he can’t exactly breathe easily. In Germany VW is considering whacking him for damages. It might also seek clawbacks from him and others. New VW CEO Herbert Diess was granted a safe-passage deal in the U.S.
And More Updates:A name from the past, phony blood tester Theranos, hit the papers again last week. A new suit against it reveals investors who lost millions, including Rupert Murdoch ($125 mln), Walmart owners the Walton family ($150 mln)and the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos($100 mln). Oh, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has laid off the rest of her staff and expects the company to be liquidated this summer. -- Without admitting guilt Wells Fargo agreed May 4 to settle a class-action suit for $480 million related to its bogus credit card scandal. It’s likely there will be more fallout: several federal departments continue to investigate Wells and besides a $1 billion penalty the bank agreed to allow the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to remove board members and executives ( PRN, April 24).
Platform Prater: Facebook last week held its F8 session in the shadow of the Cambridge Analytica mess, with Mark Zuckerberg emphasizing features he hopes will please brands and users. Facebook will add Augmented Reality (AR) to its Messenger chat app allowing consumers to ‘apply’ Sephora makeup to their face and inspect 3-D versions of Nike sneakers. A translation feature for Facebook Marketplace will facilitate international transactions and an AI tool will help small businesses communicate with customers.
People: FleishmanHillard created a chief practice officer position and named southern region president Janise Murphy its first holder. -- APCO named James Yi MD of its Southeast Asia operations, based in Singapore.