III. Impact Areas

People & Culture


At NIKE, Inc., we believe that a talented, diverse and inclusive employee base helps drive the creativity that is central to our brands. Our employee base includes a broad range of functions and roles globally, from brand and category experts to footwear designers and retail workers, from specialists in logistics, customs, tax and trade, to distribution-center managers and many, many more.

Our Approach

We believe that our company’s guiding philosophy has the power to influence, inspire and challenge employees on a daily basis. Our global strategy for human resources (HR) is to help unleash this potential across every area of our business by enabling leaders to make great decisions that, in turn, enable Nike’s business growth. Our HR function supports growth goals as partners to our leaders to ensure we evolve the organization to support all of our brands, ensure operational and functional excellence, and plan the size and cost of our global workforce.

At the end of FY11, Nike employed almost 38,000 people on six continents, an increase of nearly 5,000 employees and 15 percent compared to FY10.

Our employees have been actively engaged in shaping our sustainability journey. In 2005, people from across the company participated in an effort to focus on what the future of sustainability at Nike, and their roles within it, should look like. We challenged employees through group exercises and brainstorming sessions to define how the future could look and how we would get there. We brought in external voices and did scenario planning. We led a process to create shared ownership of a set of scenarios that all pointed to one conclusion – that the way we did business at that time would not serve us in a future world. Employees’ insights during that exercise helped us to shape our business approach to sustainability and employees’ roles in delivering on that.

Our employees are well positioned to address change. In fact, the nature of Nike’s business is change. Consumers are constantly evolving what they expect, and we know that employees across the company, at all levels, making quick, but wise, decisions is crucial to our success. Honing the ability of employees to ask the right questions, examining learning opportunities, and continually rethinking the needs of the business are ever-present priorities that are supported by leaders who coach and inspire. 

Company of Storytellers

We’re a company of storytellers, and we mine our history to give us the insights about how we will think about the future. We have a set of company-wide maxims – 11 principles – that guide us. Together, they embody the spirit of Nike: 

  1. It is our nature to innovate.
  2. Nike is a company.
  3. Nike is a brand.
  4. Simplify and go.
  5. The consumer decides.
  6. Be a sponge.
  7. Evolve immediately.
  8. Do the right thing.
  9. Master the fundamentals.
  10. We are on the offense – always.
  11. Remember the man. (The late Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder)
Insights from Employees

To gauge our employees’ engagement with and motivation about their work, Nike conducted three global employee surveys between FY04 and FY09. The key themes that emerged from the surveys during these six years remained consistent – so much so that we decided to stop conducting global surveys. For example, we heard consistently that: 

  • Nike employees globally are highly engaged
  • Employees wanted more involvement and clarity around career growth and development
  • Employees wanted better managers

These insights helped us to build our strategy and focus our efforts. For example, we knew we needed to define concretely what good management looks like and share that with all managers. As a result, we have worked to transform expectations for managers, equip them with the right tools and develop their capabilities.

The global surveys also provided us with consistent perspectives on the role of diversity and inclusion. Employees identified four themes that now comprise the business case for diversity and inclusion at Nike:

  • Drives recruitment of the most dynamic people
  • Enriches the creativity and innovation that shapes the brand
  • Grows our competitive advantage
  • Heightens the stature of and belief in the brand among our culturally diverse consumer base
Coaching to Inspire Individuals and Teams

Nike’s commitment to its workforce includes enabling managers and leaders to be levers for accelerating the company’s growth. We invest in our leaders by providing learning and development opportunities that teach managers how to amplify their employees’ talent, energy and capabilities. Being a “talent multiplier” is not about making people work harder, but about engaging them in a way that helps them produce better and more relevant work.

Our Manager Manifesto, launching in FY12, outlines four core principles of manager excellence: lead, coach, drive and inspire. These principles define how we reach our individual and collective potential. Managers are role models who inspire their teams, live the passion of our brands and promote creative environments for best thinking and work.

Nike equips leaders to plan, land and grow individual talent, align strategy and manage team performance, celebrate and reward performance and drive excellence across the organization. Through it all, managers listen to their teams. To support this process, we are developing a new upward feedback tool – “Manager 90” – that will give Nike managers the insights they need to identify their own opportunities to improve. 

Acquiring, Managing and Developing Talent

Nike’s recruiting efforts mine the world’s best talent. In building our teams, we focus on Nike’s future business needs and how we can plan for growth.

In the past, talent development was something that everyone, in a sense, owned. Over the past few years, we have transitioned from an individual-brand-based approach to a true NIKE, Inc. approach. So today, instead of “many workforces” across our brands, we are focused on maximizing “one workforce.”

To do this, we concentrate on key areas that help to sustain our business performance. Our talent strategy focuses on critical assignment planning, manager accountability for coaching and mentoring, and a variety of innovative approaches to individual and team learning. We also work to ensure successful leadership transitions, develop the next generation of leaders and grow emerging and diverse talent.

Talent reviews play a key role in deepening the strength of our bench and help leaders make thoughtful choices about putting the right people to work in the right areas. In these reviews, leaders are accountable for improving the performance, potential, diversity and continuity of their teams while ensuring the highest return on investments in our talent. This comprehensive career approach strengthens our globally diverse talent with the critical experiences and leadership skills they need to achieve Nike’s business objectives and realize their own potential.

To ensure that we have the leadership required for Nike to continue to grow, we are investing significantly in the areas of sustainable talent practices and infrastructure.

Rewards and Benefits

We celebrate and reward successful employee results through excellent benefits and rewards. Nike offers competitive total compensation, including benefits that provide employees the opportunity to stay fit, ensure the wellness of their families and create a positive working environment. As a global company, every geographic location is different, but each provides for variable health coverage, fitness center memberships, time off, retirement savings and more. Total benefits packages depend on position, location and years with the company. The range of benefits available includes:

  • Health insurance
  • Life and accident insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Retirement savings plan with a company contribution
  • Employee stock purchase plan (15 percent discount)
  • Paid vacations and holidays
  • Paid sabbaticals
  • Product discounts
  • Onsite fitness center/fitness discounts
  • Transportation allowance/discount
  • Tuition assistance

Within the United States, Nike reviews and shares with employees an annual report card comparing compensation, benefits and other components of total compensation to other leading global companies.  


At Nike, we want an open and creative culture that harnesses diversity and inclusion to inspire ideas and ignite innovation. To achieve this, our diversity and inclusion strategy focuses on three foundational priorities. First, like all championship teams, we focus on the fundamentals. We offer a resource center with various tools and exercises to help teams discover how diversity and inclusion drive creativity and innovation. And we promote the power of diversity through team experiences like one we introduced in FY10 called “Diversity & Innovation: The Medici Effect,” which help teams put the principles of innovation into play. To date, we’ve facilitated more than 200 sessions in more than 30 countries across the globe. We’ve worked with more than 5,000 employees who now have new and creative ways to leverage their teams’ diversity as they approach their work.

Second, we seek to empower inclusive cultures. In FY09, for example, we launched a new experience called “Culture as Offense,” inviting a panel of young employees (“young” in both age and tenure) to share their perspectives and experiences with senior leadership. This event spurred an intergenerational dialogue and ripple effect spreading to more than 20 locations (and counting) globally, spawning discovery and action.

And third, we inspire ideas to ignite innovation. By designing new and creative models of engagement, we equip leaders and teams with tools to create a culture of openness and innovation, where new perspectives and ideas are invited, heard and considered. More ideas lead to better ideas, and better ideas lead to innovation. Our focus on culture and innovation as an approach to diversity has been recognized by external diversity professionals such as Georgetown University’s Consortium of Chief Diversity Officers, of which Nike is a member, and other global innovation conferences.

We recognize there is no single approach nor is there a finish line to this type of work. There are many factors that need to be in play to create high-performing, diverse and inclusive teams. Team composition, manager excellence and team culture are all critical to success. While we take an innovative approach to this work, we balance it with the need to offer the fundamentals through education and awareness programs. These basic principles of diversity and inclusion not only make Nike a better company, but have the ability to contribute to making a better world. To this end, we are seeking external partners to help us create a shared index that will help teams and leaders gauge their ability to create open and creative cultures where everybody plays.

Nike supports an internal “Women of Nike” community, six employee networks and numerous councils promoting cultural understanding, awareness and employee growth.

Coaching us in this work is our Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) who reports directly to our CEO. The D&I team partners with other business units to reinforce the importance and value of an inclusive culture that taps the diverse perspectives and strengths of our workforce to gain competitive advantage, as well as develop internal diversity assessments and measurements. 

Health and Safety

We promote and manage a healthy and safe working environment for employees. We offer everything from healthy-living pledges included in employee-benefit plans and on-site gyms and classes at corporate facilities, to risk-based safety assessments and tracking globally. We provide extensive safety training to employees based on the type of job they do and the level of risk associated with that job.

We track and assess recordable and lost-time incident rates against industry and benchmarked world-class averages. Measured facilities include high-risk facilities, consisting of distribution centers, in-house manufacturing and high employee population locations. The measurements cover more than 15,000 Nike workers.

We use internal and external audits to assess facility performance, on a one- to three-year cycle based on performance and risk profile – targeting high-hazard and large-population facilities. We audit for compliance with Nike’s environmental, safety and health standards.

For high-risk locations (including distribution centers and in-house manufacturing), we track and assess recordable rates against industry averages and world-class status.

Sharing Expectations

We produce and share employee handbooks that cover company missions and maxims, as well as specific guidelines on conduct, including ethical behavior, conflicts of interest, corruption, corporate responsibility, anti-harassment and anti-corruption, and a violence-free workplace. This handbook is also available online. 

Employee Snapshot

In our last full report (FY07-09), we shared global employee data across Nike regions for the first time. The following is an updated snapshot of data by geography, gender and ethnicity.


Our global workforce is half male, half female. In FY11, Nike employed slightly more women than men in Central and Eastern Europe and Greater China, and slightly more men than women in the United States. The gender breakdown of management is about 60 percent male and 40 percent female. 


Nike collects detailed ethnicity information about our U.S.- based workforce. Just over half are Caucasian. Our proportion of minorities is just under 50 percent, remaining relatively steady since FY09. In FY08, we changed our tracking system, allowing employees to more accurately identify their ethnicity by choosing from more than one category as applicable. Among management, ethnically diverse employees comprise around 22 percent of the total workforce in FY11, up from 19 percent in FY06.

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