Nike CEO John Donahoe says brands need to stand by their values amid DeSantis, Disney feud

Nike President and Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe

Source: Nike

As a political battle rages between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney, Nike CEO John Donahoe stated it is necessary for companies to select their battles – however combat for the values integral to their brands. 

During a sitdown interview on the inaugural CNBC CEO Council Summit in Santa Barbara, Calif. Monday night, CNBC’s Sara Eisen touched on the DeSantis controversy and requested Donahoe if he was fearful Nike would turn into a goal.

“Aren’t you fearful that if Ron DeSantis turns into president, he is gonna go after you as a woke Corporation?” Eisen requested Donahoe in regards to the anticipated Republican presidential contender. 

In response, Donahoe stated corporations do not need to weigh in on each political kerfuffle however ought to be a loud voice when their model’s values are underneath assault. 

“I feel Bob’s doing an awesome job at this,” Donahoe stated of Disney CEO Bob Iger.

“If it is core to who you’re and your values, then no, you stand up in your values,” he stated. “If it is commenting on some political concern that is in another person’s yard, then we we could have that non-public feeling, however we do not touch upon it with our model and publicly.” 

Iger wasn’t main Disney when, in February 2022, he publicly slammed Florida Republicans’ controversial invoice limiting classroom dialogue of sexual orientation, which he and different critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”

His tweet that the invoice “will put weak, younger LGBTQ folks in jeopardy” put extra strain on Disney’s CEO on the time, Bob Chapek, to break his silence in regards to the laws.

After Disney itself got here out towards the invoice, DeSantis and his allies focused the Orlando-area particular tax district that has allowed Walt Disney World to basically self-govern its operations for many years. The conflict has gone on for greater than a yr, and it has continued even after Iger returned as CEO in November following Chapek’s ouster.

Donahoe pointed to three values which are integral to Nike’s model: racial and social justice, sustainability and youth involvement in sports activities, notably for younger women.

When it comes to racial and social justice, Donahoe stated Nike constructed its model in partnership with among the most iconic Black and brown athletes in historical past, akin to Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and LeBron James. 

“In addition, our core client for the Nike model, the Jordan Brand, the converse model, are city Black and brown communities, that is the place sneaker tradition began,” Donahoe defined. “And so we hear to our athletes and to our client about what they care about they usually care about racial and social justice and so we view that as core to who we’re, core to our id … So it provides us a bit extra braveness to converse out.” 

The firm has centered on youth involvement in sports activities as younger women are dropping out of athletics at “an alarming fee,” Donahoe stated.

“Turns out one of many largest causes women drop out is they do not have feminine coaches after they hit puberty,” stated Donahoe. “So we’re making an attempt to practice 20,000 feminine coaches, mothers and different former athletes to be coaches to promote youth. So that is much less of a controversial concern, nevertheless it’s one we care about as a price.” 

On sustainability, Donahoe stated that as “the chief” within the trade, Nike should set an instance for change as a result of if it does not, “it will not occur.” 

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