Matthew Townsend, Bloomberg, March 22, 2018


It’s never a good time for companies to grapple with a scandal over sexist behavior. At Nike Inc., it’s especially awkward given its ambition to target female shoppers.

The world’s largest sports brand expects much of its future growth to come from selling more sneakers and gear to young women. And fresh concerns about a locker-room mentality could hurt Nike’s reputation with a demographic group that it desperately needs. That risk looms over a company that saw two high-profile executives step down last week amid a broader review of misconduct.

“It’s an enormous reputational risk,” said Davia Temin. “We know millennials want to work for places that have a higher purpose. They are going to put their buying power in the same place.”

The company is especially ripe for being deemed phony and inauthentic, she said. Unlike some other businesses caught up in the #MeToo movement — a push to improve treatment of women, especially in the workplace — Nike has marketed itself as a champion of female empowerment, Temin said. Anything that undercuts that image could be a brand killer. […read more]