Nike’s Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility

Topic: Business Ethics
Words: 1241 Pages: 5


Modern companies are no longer expected to limit their obligations only to providing consumers with quality products and services. Instead, businesses also need to deliver on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and embrace the principles of conscious capitalism (CC). Nike is one of the largest apparel companies in the world and has been operating for more than thirty years (Sichol, 2019). Nike retains leadership in the sphere of sportswear products and in terms of the commitment to corporate social responsibility and the conscious capitalism tenets. Although there were instances of Nike participating in unethical activities related to the company’s production, over the years, the brand has made substantial progress. The current presentation will deliver information on how Nike aligns its practices and operations with CSR and CC.

The concept of CSR

Before analyzing the case of Nike, it is important to define the concept of CSR and present its principles. Corporate social responsibility is the obligation made on the part of a business to address the environmental, social, and economic effects of its activities in a way consistent with public expectations (McWilliams et al., 2019). Essentially, CSR refers to the company’s commitment to being accountable for the actions it undertakes and the projects it engages in. CST covers every aspect of the company, including its approach to human resources, production, and even supply chain members. CSR manifests itself in different forms, including corporate policies such as working with ethical manufacturers, investing in social projects, promoting workplace equality and diversity, and supporting charities.

The four tenets of CC

Conscious capitalism is another element of Nike’s policies which rests on four main pillars, which in turn shape businesses’ activities. The first tenet of conscious capitalism is the higher purpose which means that the company must not only be preoccupied with maximizing its profits. Another tenet of CC is the necessity to recognize stakeholders as important and independent, and therefore their needs and desires have to be satisfied by the business. The third tenet of CC is conscious leadership which involves choosing a leader who is committed to embracing decentralization, innovation, empowerment, and collaboration, as well as serving a higher purpose. Finally, the fourth tenet is installing a conscious capitalist culture that is based on the values of fairness, accountability, loyalty, and caring.

Nike’s CSR practices

As mentioned above, Nike demonstrates an excellent commitment to CSR principles and serves as an example for other companies. Every year, Nike publishes reports presenting information on the company’s progress across all of its CSR targets. For example, in 2020, the company provided data on how it was able to achieve a 25% reduction in terms of carbon emissions and energy use (). Additionally, the company has substantially increased the number of racial and ethnic minorities in the positions of directors over the past five years (Nike, 2020). The company also outlined its vision to improve occupational health and safety in the contract manufacturing facilities. There are many other initiatives of Nike that concern additional areas, including workforce, community, and environment.

Nike’s CC practices

Nike also strictly follows the four tenets of conscious capitalism and thoroughly addresses each of them. First of all, the company openly states its purpose, which is to “the world forward through the power of sport” and “breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all” (“Breaking barriers,” n.d.). Essentially, instead of focusing on delivering quality products, the company wishes to promote inclusivity and challenge the status quo, which certainly can be considered as a higher purpose. Additionally, the company considers all stakeholders as important since it designs special initiatives supporting the environment, communities, workers, and clients. The company also supports conscious leadership and culture by supporting diversity and tying executive compensation to Nike’s progress in inclusion (Nike, 2020).

CSR and CC practices and Nike’s corporate strategy

Nike also partially integrates its commitment to CSR and CC with its corporate strategy. As noted in the company’s address to shareholders, Nike’s corporate strategy focuses on “creating more premium… consumer experiences” (Nike, 2021, p. 31). As a result, for example, the previously mentioned practices, such as reducing carbon emissions and electricity use, can be viewed as an attempt to offer a more premium experience to clients. Essentially, Nike may use its environment-friendliness initiatives as a way to market its products as highly-sustainable. The company also invests in using sustainable materials in the apparel and footwear it produces. Sustainable materials tend to be more expensive and have better quality, which corresponds to the company’s strategy of delivering premium consumer experiences.

CSR and CC practices and Human resources practices

As mentioned above, Nike highlights the importance of achieving inclusivity and diversity, which directly affects its human resource practices and community engagement. For instance, Nike designed special programs which enable contract factory employees to get a share in productivity gains (Nike, 2020). Moreover, the company managed to increase the representation of women over five years, especially in higher-level management positions (Nike, 2020). Additionally, the company demonstrates its commitment to the improvement of local communities in the United States and abroad. Nike plans to invest more than $100 million in organizations countering racial inequality. Nike also invested in the Active Schools China initiative, which engaged more than 2 million students and trained more than 7,000 Physical Education teachers (Nike, 2020).

Christian worldview recommendations

Although the company supports its employees from the perspective of the Christian worldview, the company also needs to focus more on contract factory employees. Nike continues to rely on its partnerships with local factories in countries with low living standards and even occasional instances of forced labor (Nix, 2020). Due to operating on a contractual basis, Nike does not have much control over the workforce and the workplace conditions in such factories. Therefore, it would be reasonable for the company to either begin relying on its own facilities and employees or begin monitoring the contract factories. Additionally, the company should allocate more resources to charities working to support people in the countries where Nike has contract facilities.

CC recommendations

As mentioned previously, Nike managed to successfully integrate CC practices into its business model, yet it also can improve significantly. For instance, in an effort to increase its stakeholder recognition, Nike can hold discussions with its loyal customers and listen to their views on the future of the company and its strategy. Additionally, the company needs to extend its inclusive culture to include contract factory workers in foreign countries. Although the company demonstrates progress in gender and ethnic diversity in the United States, it needs to improve its performance abroad. Finally, the company also needs to understand that despite moving towards offering premium experiences, its products should remain available to less affluent consumers. Therefore, Nike needs to develop special programs for low-income clients, which will also contribute to stakeholder inclusion.


The principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and conscious capitalism (CC) are crucial for modern companies such as Nike. CSR implies being accountable and recognizing one’s obligation to address the social and environmental effects of one’s operations. CC is based on recognizing the importance of four tenets which are higher purpose, conscious culture and leadership, and stakeholder engagement. Nike demonstrates exemplary commitment to the principles of CSR and CC. For instance, Nike invests in local communities and promotes gender, ethnic, and racial inclusivity in the workplace. At the same time, Nike needs to improve its charity work and ensure better monitoring of contract workers’ conditions.


Breaking barriers. (n.d.). Nike. Web.

McWilliams, A., Rupp, D., Siegel, D., Stahl, G., & Waldman, D. (2019). The Oxford handbook of corporate social responsibility: Psychological and organizational perspectives. Oxford University Press.

Nike. (2020). FY20 Nike, Inc. impact report. Web.

Nike. (2021). Notice of annual meeting. Web.

Nix, N. (2020). Bloomberg equality: The stench of forced labor taints big brands. Bloomberg. Web.

Sichol, L. (2019). From an idea to Nike: How marketing made Nike a global success. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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