The CEO of Nike says the company stands "against bigotry" and "for racial justice" amid heightened tensions in America between black communities and the police.
Mark Parker sent a letter to his 32,000 employees, and shared it with Fortune, adding his voice to those of Nike athletes and other prominent figures concerned and despairing about racial injustice in America.
Nike was criticised in 2015 and threatened with boycott by some after offering law enforcement officers up to 30% off on its second annual "law enforcement appreciation day", which was controversial due to falling shortly after the killing of Walter Scott and Eric Harris by police.
The company has a diverse workforce, with 52% identifying as "minority" according to a recent report. Of those people, in the US, 21% are African American and 18% are Hispanic/Latinx.
You can read Parker's full letter below, which he signs off #blacklivesmatter and #stoptheviolence.
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 are all hurting tonight. More violence is not the answer. #StoptheViolence
-- LeBron James (@KingJames) July 8, 2016
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.
Chairman, President and CEO, NIKE, Inc.