The past few weeks have seen the country suffer the sort of racial and violent turmoil the likes of which many haven't seen since 1968. Nike CEO Mark Parker was moved enough by recent events that he felt the need to reach out personally to Nike's 32,000 employees through a heartfelt letter. In it, Parker is not only descriptive but prescriptive, stating that the company is planning a series of meetings at key Nike offices because "this is your company and we want you to be heard." The letter, shared exclusively with Fortune, is reprinted in its entirety below.
Like many of you, I’m struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible. We have experienced heartbreaking, disturbing and challenging times in the United States. I have watched with sorrow the events that took place across the U.S. The loss and pain experienced in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas have left communities, institutions and even the nation tested. Our thoughts are with all those impacted and their families and friends.
Nike has a long history of supporting the marginalized and those whose voice is not always heard. In many cases our athletes have eloquently argued for change and to stop the situation. Last night, at the ESPYs, we heard athletes like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul powerfully speak out about the issues facing society. Others, like Serena Williams, have also made their voices heard.
As a company, I’m proud that Nike takes a stand on issues that impact all of us, our athletes and society as a whole. And I am proud that Nike stands against discrimination in any form. We stand against bigotry. We stand for racial justice. We firmly believe the world can improve. We are a diverse company and, as we stated in our recent Sustainable Business Report, are firmly committed to making it more diverse and inclusive.
We cannot solve all these profound, longstanding and systemic issues. However, one thing will always be clear: discrimination in any form and racial injustice are destructive forces. And talking about these issues can help find peace and paths forward. I firmly believe we are at our best when we engage and listen to those around us, in our communities at home and at work. It’s impossible to leave our emotions and experiences outside the work place – they inform us and make us who we are.
We don’t have the answers, but it’s important to try to talk about the issues we’re facing. Antoine Andrews, VP of Diversity and Inclusion, will work with the North American leadership team in the coming weeks to help facilitate meetings at WHQ and in our NY, Chicago and LA offices to allow us to talk about what we are facing together. Conversations don’t solve everything, but dialogue will help. Our voices matter. This is your company and we want you to be heard. In difficult times, it’s important to speak up. We cannot change the past, but we can impact the future.
Mark Parker Chairman, President and CEO, NIKE, Inc.