The Black Lives Matter movement has not just made its presence felt through protests of police brutality and systemic racism within the American law enforcement and justice system, but also the world of business, as vast issues regarding a lack of diversity within some of the country’s biggest and most powerful companies have been viewed under a microscope.
Many companies were quick to issue statements supporting protests and condemning racism, often in vague terms and without mentioning the police and what the protests were really trying to express. Nike was among those that issued statements and created ads with some of its most prominent Black athletes, also pledging financial contributions — including the $100 million pledge with Michael Jordan through Jordan Brand — to support programs fighting racial injustice. On Thursday, Nike’s CEO John Donahoe announced some internal steps Nike will take to continue their promise to support Black culture.
Donahoe sent an internal memo noting Juneteenth will become a paid company holiday, and that they will start a diversity education program for employees as well as making sure leadership is held accountable for ensuring there is proper representation within the company, per Newsweek.
“For more than 40 years, our brand has celebrated incredible Black athletes and inspired millions of people all over the world by amplifying their excellence,” he said. “When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand.”
Juneteenth — which celebrates June 19, 1865, the day slavery became fully abolished in the U.S. — becoming a more widely celebrated day is important here in the United States, and Nike joins the likes of Twitter and Square in making similar announcements recently. What will be most important is that they follow through on the promise to increase representation of the Black and Latinx community within the company, particularly at the executive level, and that’s certainly something worth watching in coming years to see if they indeed take strides in that area.