Nike CEO John Donahoe has refused to speak out on China’s human rights abuses, despite his company having a huge market in the country. Donahoe claims that his company did not have to sacrifice its values to do business with China, claiming Nike operates “very aligned with our values.”
Donahoe told CNBC that “we participate in sport all over the world, including China.”
“China’s a very important market for us; we have a long-term history in China,” he smiled. “Phil Knight, our founder, was in China forty years ago, beginning to build what’s now an incredible consumer connection that Chinese consumers have with Nike, with (Michael) Jordan, with Converse.”
“And so we continue to invest in China; we have over 7,000 model brand stores in China through our Chinese partners; we’re the number one sports brand on T-Mall, have been for the last decades, still are today,” he added.
T-Mall is China’s largest platform for Chinese and international businesses to sell brand-name goods to Chinese citizens.
“And so we take a very long-term view in China; we’re continuing to invest in China; we’ll continue to invest in China while also operating a very responsible global supply chain,” he continued.
“You told an analyst on the conference call last quarter that you are a brand; you said, ‘We are a brand on China and for China,’ which got a lot of attention given the attention from the U.S. and around the world on the human rights issues, the brutal clamp-down on Hong Kong, questions about where COVID-19 came from,” journalist Sara Eisen stated. “Do you feel like you have to sacrifice your values at all as a company to do business there and to continue to grow and continue those deep roots that you talked about Nike has there?”
“Not at all, Sara,” Donahoe answered. “We connect the consumers in markets all over the world. And so I could say go in any country around the world and say consumer in that market consider Nike a brand of their market for them. And so that’s one of the reasons Nike’s been so globally successful. And we operate very aligned with our values, always have been, always will, including throughout our entire supply chain.”
He concluded, “And so this is simply part of the challenges of operating a global brand in global markets, And we’ve navigated that very well for fifty years and we will continue to do that.”