Nike Slave Labor

Decent Essays
Nike is one of the world’s largest producers, marketers, and sellers of athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories. The company manufactures Nike products in 142 factories across 15 countries. Most of its product is manufactured in foreign nations, including Vietnam, China, and Indonesia, followed by Argentina, India, Brazil, and Mexico (Nike, 2016). In 1991, activist Jeff Balling raised national concern over Nike’s business practices in Indonesia. In a Harper’s Bazaar expose in 1992, Balling called out Nike for using an Indonesian subcontractor who paid workers 14 cents an hour, while working in dismal factory conditions. The report created a near-immediate backlash against Nike, which continued until 1998, when Nike CEO,…show more content…
As such, it applied cultural relativism to justify the use of child labor, unsafe labor practices, and near slave labor in its factories. Since then, Nike has been a driving force to ensure fair labor practices across the apparel industry. In 1999, Nike was a key contributor to the establishment of the Fair Labor Association, an organization that is “…dedicated to protecting workers’ rights around the world” (Fair Labor Association, 2016). Today, Nike continues efforts to ensure that contract factories comply with its Code of Conduct to improve labor standards in overseas factories (Nike, 2016). Because of Nike’s efforts to expand and enforce social responsibility at its factories and given the lessons learned from its sordid past, it is unlikely that Nike would resort to any of the straw men fallacies. However, given the pressure by investors to expect solid returns, one hopes the company continues its altruistic social responsibility efforts while veering away from the Friedman Doctrine and its assertion that “… the only social responsibility of business is to increase profits” (Hill, 2011).
Nike’s employment of the cultural relativism philosophical approach, used to justify ‘sweatshop’ labor practices in developing countries, had a detrimental effect on the reputation of the company. In 1998, Nike had to lay off staff amid lagging sales resulting from the backlash against the company. Today, Nike is recognized as the leader in athletic apparel, and one of the favorite brands among millennials and teens. A significant part of that success is attributed to the company’s dramatic change in social responsibility, initiated by its then CEO, Phil Knight, in 1998 (Lutz,
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