One of the many reasons behind the lack of growth of ethical consumerism is people’s beliefs that their individual behaviour is not going to have any significant impact on the company. However, Nike has provided us with a prime example of how campaigns and people’s actions are able to successfully alter a company’s behaviour.
Nike, which possesses a majority of the footwear brand share in the market, was under attack about 20 years ago for its horrific labour practices. According to reports, Nike had been outsourcing their labour overseas in order to reduce their costs and increase their profit margins, with some Indonesian workers earning as little as 12 pence per hour. Not only were the wages ridiculously low, but treatment of workers were abusive as well. There were reports of subcontractors punishing women who had failed to wear the regulation shoes. However, despite the knowledge of these malpractices, Nike refused to accept responsibility.
Fortunately, these reports and campaigns were not taken lightly and people did actually begin to boycott the brand! The decline in sales got to such an extent that by 1998, a large number of staff had to be laid off. It was only then that the management came to the realisation that if they wanted the situation to improve, they had to alter their image. Not only did the wages increase, but they introduced a strict oversight of labour practices and they currently have posted 150 reports of inspections of the Fair Labor Associations website.
Although it would be true to argue that Nike has still failed to publicise all the information about their supplier factories, it is still a significant change from the position they were in two decades ago. Nike was once associated with slave wages and forced labour but is now one of the most transparent and open corporations in the market.
Therefore, it is very important to remember that our purchasing behaviour does have an impact on such corporations, no matter how successful they are. So if you are aware of brands that are unethical or have failed to be transparent in regards to labour and supplies, then take an action, spread the word, change your brands, JUST DO IT.
Lutz, Ashley. “How Nike Shed Its Sweatshop Image To Dominate The Shoe Industry”. Business Insider. N.p., 2017. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.
“How Activism Forced Nike To Change Its Ethical Game | Simon Birch”. the Guardian. N.p., 2017. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.