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Nike’s First Chief Diversity And Inclusion Officer Resigns


After two years of working as Nike’s first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer, Kellie Leonard has decided to part ways with the company in order “to pursue other interests.”

Felicia Mayo, the company’s vice president of human resources and a former Tesla exec, will be stepping into the fill the role. Prior to joining Nike last year, Mayo served as head of diversity at Tesla.

Leonard played “a significant role in communications at Nike both as VP for North America and as the VP for Global Corporate and Employee Communications” as well in chief diversity officer role during his 18 year-long tenure at Nike, a company spokesperson said.

“We thank Kellie for her many contributions to the brand and her leadership within the company.”

In an internal email to employees obtained by the Financial Times, John Donahoe, Nike’s President and CEO said the move is part of  “a structural shift” to allow for “more meaningful change, focusing on equal access to opportunity for all.”

In a June letter to staff, Donahoe acknowledged that many of its employees felt a disconnect between the company’s external brand and their internal experience working for the company.

“You have told me that we have not consistently supported, recognized and celebrated our own black teammates in a manner they deserve. This needs to change.”

When Leonard took on the newly-crafted role in 2018, the organization was working toward moving away from its male-dominated culture. The call for change came after several complaints were made against bullying and a New York Times exposé revealed misconduct by several top male executives, including Nike’s former president Trevor Edwards.

Since the revelation, the need for diversity and inclusion has been at the forefront for several major retail brands across America. Nike, for one, has chosen to address these issues in a very public manner. For example, the retailer supported Colin Kaepernick, NFL quarterback turned activist, when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and inequality. Kaepernick has been part of several Nike advertising and social media campaigns over the last few years.

“When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike,” said Donahoe, in the June memo.

“Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand.”

For now, Nike seems to be putting its money where its mouth is. In response to the recent killing of George Floyd, Nike has pledged to invest $40 million over the course of four years to support organizations that focus on social justice, education and racial inequality.

Nike’s support for social causes comes at a time when the company is facing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The retailer announced plans last week to spend roughly $200 million to $250 million to facilitate company reorganization and summer layoffs.

Nike has also announced plans to experiment with small-format stores that will focus on delivering personalized, omnichannel experiences.

“The global pandemic has made it clear that consumer behavior is changing rapidly, providing the opportunity for us to accelerate the pace of our transformation,” CEO John Donahoe said on an earning’s call. “Over the past few years, we have shifted from a legacy, wholesale distribution model to investment in a model that gives our consumers a more premium shopping experience.” 

The company plans to open 150 to 200 smaller format stores in the next couple of years, which will draw inspiration from its Nike Live stores.

The post Nike’s First Chief Diversity And Inclusion Officer Resigns appeared first on Retail Bum.

This content was originally published here.

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