Supplement | HBS Case Collection | June 2013

Governance and Sustainability at Nike (B)

by Lynn S. Paine, Nien-he Hsieh and Lara Adamsons

Abstract

Two members of Nike's executive team must decide what sustainability targets to propose to Nike's CEO and to the corporate responsibility committee of Nike's board of directors. Set in 2012, the case traces the evolution of Nike's approach to environmental and social concerns from its origins in student protests against labor conditions in the supply chain in the 1990s through the development of a board-level corporate responsibility (CR) committee in 2001 to the creation of the Sustainable Business & Innovation (SB&I) strategy in 2009. In this context, Hannah Jones, Nike's VP of SB&I, and Eric Sprunk, VP of Merchandising & Product, are working to finalize the company's next round of sustainability targets for presentation to the CR committee. When Nike signs on to the Roadmap to Zero, a Greenpeace-inspired initiative to eliminate the discharge of toxic chemicals into the water supply by 2020, the company's target-setting process becomes more complex. Jones and Sprunk must decide whether to recommend that Nike dial back other sustainability goals to meet the zero toxics challenge, modify its commitment to zero toxics, or find another solution.

Keywords: Nike; Hannah Jones; Mark Parker; Phil Knight; Philip Knight; Eric Sprunk; Jill Ker Conway; Phyllis Wise; Don Blair; sustainable business and innovation; SB&I; Flyknit; DyeCoo; Footwear; Athletic Footwear; Apparel; Athletic Apparel; sustainability; Greenpeace; Detox campaign; Dirty Laundry; Water; Water Use; Water Pollution; Water Resources; Corporate Responsibility Committee; Decision Choices and Conditions; Decisions; ethics; fairness; Globalized Firms and Management; Multinational Firms and Management; Globalized Markets and Industries; governance; corporate accountability; corporate governance; Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Innovation Leadership; Innovation Strategy; Goals and Objectives; Management Practices and Processes; corporate social responsibility and impact; Performance; Alignment; supply chain; Organizational Change and Adaptation; judgment; board of directors; board committees; environmental and social sustainability; footwear industry; Decision Choices and Conditions; Decisions; Ethics; Fairness; Globalized Firms and Management; Multinational Firms and Management; Globalized Markets and Industries; Governance; Corporate Accountability; Corporate Governance; Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Innovation Leadership; Innovation Strategy; Goals and Objectives; Management Practices and Processes; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Performance; Alignment; Supply Chain; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Judgments; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Asia; China; United States; Oregon; Portland;

Citation:

Paine, Lynn S., Nien-he Hsieh, and Lara Adamsons. "Governance and Sustainability at Nike (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 313-147, June 2013.