In an email to Nike (NKE) staff obtained by Yahoo Finance, Nike CEO John Donahoe explained why the company decided to respond via Instagram (FB) to the racially motivated attacks on George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, and Breonna Taylor.
White text over a black background, the post reads: “For once, just don’t do it. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change. Let’s all be part of the change.”
In his email, the Nike CEO said he felt compelled to address the injustices. “Team, As we’ve watched racial tragedies expose prejudice and injustice in our cities over these past few weeks, I can’t stop thinking about the individuals impacted: Ahmaud Arbery. Christian Cooper. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. The horrible killings and racist actions serve as a sickening reminder of what too many people live through every day in America,” Donahoe said. “It is absolutely wrong what’s happening in our communities, to our friends and family members. These tragedies are not unique to the U.S. Far from it – we see violent incidents in countries all over the world, fueled by hatred and ignorance.”
Donahoe made it clear that the company does not tolerate prejudice. “Let me be as clear as I can: Nike is opposed to bigotry. We are opposed to hatred and inequality in all its forms, indirect and overt. While Nike cannot solve injustice, I believe we have a responsibility to work toward addressing it to the best of our ability.”
Donahoe also touched upon the COVID-19 pandemic and how, along with the racist attacks, are weighing on employees’ minds — as well as the national psyche.
“I know these have been a difficult few months. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional fear and tragedy into our lives, with striking disparities in how certain populations have experienced this crisis, particularly in the United States. With its devastating impact on communities of color – including Black, Latinx, Asian and Native American populations – COVID-19 has further exposed deep-seated inequities that are sadly systemic in our society,” he said.
“It has also served as a reminder of the racism that is still far too prevalent in our culture. Racial bigotry has created enormous pain and tragedy in the Black community. And since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a disturbing increase in racism toward Asian communities worldwide. The fact that these injustices – and too many others – continue is horrific and unacceptable. I know many teammates in the U.S. and around the world are feeling tired of having to justify their existence and to fight for their dignity and humanity.”
Donahoe implored Nike staff not to feel daunted by the events facing the nation.
“I encourage all of us to not be daunted by the enormity of what we face today. The tragedies we face, we face together. We choose to act in a way that is authentic and true to our values. We are compelled by our purpose: Until We All Win. And we will never ever quit until that becomes a reality.”
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.