Nike Company: Business Code of Ethics Research Paper


Nike is one of the leading producers of sports footwear globally. The company employs over 33 thousand people worldwide (About Nike, 2014). Nike operates in 180 countries and its revenue target in 2015 is announced to be $28-30 billion (History & heritage, 2014). The company’s mission is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” (About Nike, 2014).

At that, there is a brief addition: “If you have a body, you are an athlete” (About Nike, 2014). It is necessary to note that the fact that the company operates globally led to extensive attention to it as lots of companies who choose outsourcing are often engaged in certain unethical conduct, for example, the use of sweatshops (Grein & Gould, 2007). Nonetheless, the company pays a lot of attention its employees’ as well as partners’ ethical conduct.

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Evaluation of the Code of Ethics

Ethical System Used

The company has a comprehensive code of ethics which touches upon such spheres as social, environmental responsibility and human rights. Treviño and Nelson (2011) note that there are different types of ethics which differ in terms of approaches and goals. Nike follows duty-driven ethics as the company stresses that employees have to follow certain rules without paying much attention to the results of actions.

For instance, on the very first page of the code of ethics it is stated that the document “contains the rules of the game for NIKE, the rules we live by and what we stand for” (Inside the lines, n.d., p. 1). Furthermore, according to the code, employees of the company have to follow certain standards to become successful. Nike’s employees are expected to follow rules set by the company as well as officials in the country where the company is operating.

Employees and the Code of Ethics is Used

It is necessary to note that the code of ethics is a document to be taken into account by all employees of the company though it is clear that some points are likely to be used by employees, management and the board of directors. It is likely that each employee has to make ethical decisions each day at his/her level of competence. For instance, such concepts as equal opportunity, harassment – zero tolerance, social responsibilities are set for all employees at all levels.

At the same time, the code of ethics contains such section as product safety. Blue-collar workers as well as management involved in production are likely to pay significant attention to it. It is noted that employees have to make sure that products they produce are safe and they are “designed, produced, and serviced” in accordance with all existing rules and standards (Inside the lines, n.d., p. 9).

Management of the company has to pay particular attention to numerous laws (export, import, production and so on). These employees also have to pay a lot of attention to protection of information and intellectual property of Nike as well as proper reporting.

The board of directors will be more focused on assets and records safeguarding. Admittedly, protecting intellectual property and information is also another ‘ethical priority’ for these employees. Furthermore, the board of directors should focus on ethical conduct in terms of competition and antitrust, fair dealing and political contributions (Inside the lines, n.d.). It is necessary to add that all employees irrespective of their position in the company will have to avoid illegal and unethical issues especially fraud and foul.

Why and How the Code Used Is

It is possible to state that the code is used in general circumstances. Employees are to follow the standards set in all situations. According to company’s numerous statements, this compliance with ethical codes will enable the company remain one of leaders in the market (Inside the lines, n.d.). It is noteworthy that the company provides examples of its ethical conduct when focusing on its sustainability (Nike, Inc. sustainable business, 2014). Thus, Nike is involved in numerous activities aimed at environmental sustainability (including recycling). The company also donates considerable funds to promote healthy lifestyle.

The Code’s Modification

Clearly, the code of ethics is followed and it favorably affects the company’s development. It has been acknowledged that businesses in apparel industry are exposed to a lot of public attention and each operation of the company can be analyzed and criticized (Stohl, Stohl & Popova, 2009). Therefore, it is essential to be flexible and respond to a variety of trends existing in the society.

As has been mentioned above, the company’s code of ethics seems quite effective though it may benefit from certain modification. One of the most important changes to be made is to change the way the standards are introduced. The code is quite too general and lacks reasoning. The code could be improved through giving particular reasons why compliance with ethical norms will be beneficial for each employee. It is possible to switch to a combination of the duty-driven to ends-driven ethics. Employees will be more motivated to follow rules if they understand how important it is for the company as well as an individual.

Reactions to the Code

At this point, it is necessary to note that effective code of ethics is crucial for a successful company in the contemporary business environment. In the first place, customers are looking for something bigger than good quality of products and services from a business as they want to buy from a responsible company (Stohl, Stohl & Popova, 2009). Therefore, the company has to make sure that its code will be followed. Admittedly, lots of employees can be reluctant to follow standards as it is often easier to work breaking some rules.

Treviño and Nelson (2011) stress that organizational culture plays an important role on the way the code is accepted by employees. The company has to create a culture where employees understand their role in the organization and share its values. Employees should feel that ethical conduct is an expected norm and it is absolutely impossible to break the rules in any situation.


To sum up, it is possible to note that Nike has an effective ethical code which covers all major spheres. The company stipulates major values shared by successful companies operating globally. However, the code of ethics in question may be improved. It can be beneficial to include particular outcomes of ethical behavior and reasons why exactly employees have to comply with standards outlined. This would encourage employees to complete their tasks in terms of all ethical norms. Of course, it is also important to make sure those who break the rules are punished accordingly. At the same time, ethical conduct has to be rewarded.

Reference List

About Nike, Inc. (2014).

Grein, A.F., & Gould, S.J. (2007). Voluntary codes of ethical conduct: Group membership salience and globally integrated marketing communications perspectives. Journal of Macromarketing, 27(1), 289-302.

History & heritage. (2014).

. (n.d.).

Nike, Inc. sustainable business. (2014).

Stohl, C., Stohl, M., & Popova, L. (2009). A new generation of corporate codes of ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 90(1), 607-622.

Treviño, L.K., & Nelson, K.A. (2011). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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