The reputation chain

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It’s now more than a decade since Nike’s supply chain came under intense scrutiny after it was revealed that workers in sub-contractors’ factories in Asia were working in “sweat-shop” conditions.

In 1997 there were reports of demonstrations against Nike in 85 cities in 13 countries.

Hardly the image that a sporting goods brand named after the Greek winged goddess of victory  wanted to project.

It moved quickly to put in place a series of initiatives to tackle the issue including independent monitoring of sub-contractors operations.

And it worked – since then Nike has become widely regarded as a leader in managing such supply chain issues.

So it was something of a shock last week to find “The Daily Mail” newspaper in London reporting: “Nike workers ‘kicked, slapped and verbally abused’ at factories making Converse”.

The allegations are focused on factories near Jakarta in Indonesia where workers said supervisors threw shoes at them, slapped them in the face, kicked them and called them dogs and pigs.

Nike responded by implementing a series of changes at the PT Amara and Pou Chen plants.

It said: “Nike Inc has made significant progress in its Nike brand supply chain and we will continue to accelerate the optimization of our affiliate supply chain. This includes – where possible – integration between factories producing affiliate branded product and those producing Nike-branded product, while aligning factories that exclusively supply affiliate brands to the standards outlined in the Nike Inc Code of Conduct.”

Nevertheless, what has been going on in the Converse supply chain can do Nike’s reputation no good – particularly as this is an organisation that everyone thought had dealt with these problems.

And it begs the question: how many other organisations could find similar issues lurking in their supply chains?

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