Should it be the responsibility of the corporate world to solve societal problems? Nike and Corporate Social Responsibility

Last semester I did an essay on whether or not it was the responsibility of the corporate world to solve societal problems. I discussed Nike and their CSR plans. If you would like to see the full essay please contact me here.

Below is a short summary of what I discovered throughout my essay.

Throughout history, there are countless cases where successful initiatives have emerged through the use of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategies in organisations.

CSR is nothing new to the Public Relations Practitioner, however it is clear that its focus is becoming more prominent on the corporate agenda than ever before.

So – what is the motive behind it?

Earning Credibility


Earning credibility as an organisation seems to be one motivation that I am seeing more than ever before.

This is one factor Nike has dealt with considerably since 1990. Since the 1990s the accusations towards Nike included poor working conditions, unfair wages and child labour operations.

It was once quoted that a ‘pair of Nike Air Jordan shoes made in Indonesia cost a mere 14 cents per hour’.

So – how did Nike handle this?

nike 6

Nike’s initial response suggested was to that the company had no control over the sub-contracted factories. However, this response only angered anti-Nike activists further destroying the relationships Nike had with their key stakeholders. It wasn’t until 1997 when an impartial third party audit was conducted by Ernst and Young, did Nike began to see change in their practice. Ernst and Young confirmed the poor working conditions through their own report and this was when Nike began to implement change.

Ernst and Young allowed Nike to set standards and conduct mass policy change within their factories by changing policy to allow for a safer working environment. All the measures taken on by Nike are apart of a ‘Reactive Approach’ to CSR. This approach determines how organisations will address issues, after they have been exposed. The reactive method of CSR essentially involves using the minimum resources necessary to comply with the regulations, after the organisation has been exposed for taking advantage of this process. This is in comparison to the proactive approach, which is defined as capturing the environmental, social and economic investments companies make beyond those required by law or regulation.

Reactive or proactive

By lowering costs, improving product differentiation and increasing energy efficiency, proactive CSR generates tangible financial payoffs for those companies. Since 1990 when Nike was exposed, Nike have now shifted towards adopting the proactive approach to CSR. Nikes journey has led them to making more sustainable approaches in their business.

In 2013, Nike launched the MAKING App, powered by the Nike Materials Sustainability Index, to inspire designers and creators to make better choices in the materials they use. This allows designers, corporate buyers and a range of other stakeholders the ability to educate themselves on different materials used by Nike and their environmental impact.


If you wish to view the full essay please contact me here.

Im interested to know if you think Nike’s reputation is still tainted

Comment below or Tweet me @themediaedit



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