Closing The Gap

How an informal survey of women at Nike led two top executives to resign

Tired of alleged inappropriate behavior by male executives, a gender imbalance among company leaders and ongoing pay disparity, a group of female Nike employees decided to circulate an informal survey last year to gather insight into other women's experiences with inappropriate behavior and discrimination at the company.

This is not the first time that women have used informal communication to talk about workplace issues, but the Nike employee survey is significant in that it achieved results. The survey was brought to the attention of longtime Nike CEO Mark Parker, who initiated a formal review that resulted in the resignation of two top-ranking executives.

A soccer fan grabs a shoe at The Nike Underground, a pop-up experience in downtown Vancouver.
Getty Images
A soccer fan grabs a shoe at The Nike Underground, a pop-up experience in downtown Vancouver.

Last week, Parker sent an internal memo to staff announcing that Trevor Edwards, the president of Nike Brand and possibly Parker's eventual successor, would be leaving the company in August. In the memo, obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Parker wrote that Edwards' departure followed reports of "behavior occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment."

Parker also called the employees who chose to come forward "strong and courageous." Nike declined to comment to CNBC Make It on the situation.

According to regulatory filings reported by Bloomberg, Edwards will receive $525,000 over the year following his departure, due to a noncompete agreement.

Trevor Edwards
LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
Trevor Edwards

More recently, Nike announced that Jayme Martin, vice president of global categories and Edwards' top lieutenant, would also be resigning.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Edwards and Martin are accused of protecting male employees who demeaned women and bullied individuals from foreign countries.

General Counsel Hilary Krane and EVP of Human Resources Monique Matheson are the only female members of Nike's nine-person executive team, and Elizabeth Comstock and Michelle Peluso are the only women on Nike's 13-person board of directors.

Parker has selected Nike veteran Elliott Hill to take over for Edwards.

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