Newly unsealed surveys paint a bleak picture of the toxic culture for women inside the Portland-based sportswear giant Nike.
The surveys, known as the Starfish Surveys, are an explosive part of 5,000 pages of unsealed legal documents about an ongoing lawsuit against Nike for gender-based discrimination. Although employees took the surveys in 2018, the contents were only revealed to the public last month after a legal challenge from Insider, The Oregonian, and the Portland Business Journal.
Nike employees filled out the surveys after being fed up with the company culture. According to the New York Times, the surveys were then delivered in a packet to the CEO, Mark Parker.
The surveys expose sexual intimidation, bullying, and other toxic behavior in the Nike workplace.
“Maybe if you dressed nicer I would be on time,” a man at the company reportedly told a Nike female employee. “Take that baggy jacket off and show some skin.”
A bad look for Nike
Nike is among the most successful athletic apparel companies in the world. The company reported quarterly earnings this week that surpassed investors’ expectations and boosted their stock some 10% on the news, per CNBC.
But the company’s reputation was upended in 2018 in the wake of the #MeToo movement, when women employees began speaking out internally and externally about a culture that was often belittling and demanding to them, per NYT reporting at the time.
Ten Starfish Surveys are now publicly available, but employees say some 100 were collected, per Insider.
The surveys provide information about what employees experienced at the company. Per Insider, many women said that HR was a “joke” and that women had no power to affect change society at the company “that has been and continues to be disrespectful to women,” and that it is a “boy’s club.”
Another woman said she walked into the company gym and saw an employee receiving oral sex from an employee who was not as high up the corporate ladder. One employee reported that a manager “phoned in a favor” to avoid getting in trouble for calling an employee under him a “bitch.”
As Insider noted, Nike lost several executives after the 2018 internal investigation. But one person, Laura Salerno Owens, an attorney for the victims in the gender discrimination case, pushed back on the idea that the toxic behavior only applied to a small group of people, which Nike said in 2018.
“It wasn’t limited to one vertical or one department… And it wasn’t limited to one manager. This was a common experience throughout the company.”
Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.