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Nike says corporate responsibility's a good fit

Nike swoosh

KAI RYSSDAL: The sneaker company turned full-service athletic apparel maker Nike released its latest report on corporate responsibility today. Its third since 2001. The first two broke new ground in the movement to make companies more accountable for how they get their goods to consumers. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler has the details on report number three.


JEFF TYLER: Corporate responsibility at Nike means more than crisis management. Nike's Hannah Jones says corporate good-citizenship is now integrated into the business model.
HANNAH JONES: We're not going to be taking just an approach of creating one green line, or one ethical trade line. Our approach is to try and take a $15 billion company and build environmental and labor conditions into that model.

Jones says a new approach to product design will reduce waste and help transition to a climate-neutral company.

JONES: All footwear, by financial year 2011, will meet our baseline environmental standards. Which focuses on reducing waste, reducing toxic chemicals and looking at how we can innovate and create products that can be recycled or reused.

Nike also plans to eliminate excess overtime at its factories and plans to train workers and management about the freedom of association — including the right to organize. This could be an important step.

Bama Athreya is executive director of the International Labor Rights Fund.

BAMA ATHREYA: It still is a major labor rights issue in most of the production facilities, that there are not independent unions to give workers the opportunity to voice their concerns and express their concerns and bargain for better working conditions.

Athreya says Nike and other apparel companies put too much pressure on factories to keep prices flat. That makes it hard, she argues, for factories to provide fair wages and decent working conditions.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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