Nike CEO John Donahoe weighs in on Desantis, Disney feud

Nike President and CEO John Donahoe.

Supply: Nike

As a political battle rages between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney, Nike CEO John Donahoe stated it is essential for companies to decide on their battles, however struggle for the values integral to their manufacturers. 

Throughout a sit-down interview on the inaugural CNBC CEO Council Summit in Santa Barbara, California, Monday night, CNBC’s Sara Eisen touched on the DeSantis controversy and requested Donahoe if he was frightened Nike would turn out to be a goal.

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

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

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

“If it is core to who you’re and your values, then no, you arise on your values,” he stated. “If it is commenting on some political subject that is in another person’s yard, then we might have that private 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 “Do not Say Homosexual.”

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

After Disney 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 3 values which are integral to Nike’s model: racial and social justice, sustainability and youth involvement in sports activities, significantly for younger women.

Relating 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. 

“As well as, our core shopper for the Nike model, the Jordan Model, the converse model, are city Black and brown communities — that is the place sneaker tradition began,” Donahoe defined. “And so, we hearken to our athletes and to our shopper about what they care about and so they care about racial and social justice and so we view that as core to who we’re, core to our id … so it offers us slightly extra braveness to talk out.” 

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

“Seems one of many greatest causes women drop out is they do not have feminine coaches once they hit puberty,” stated Donahoe. “So, we’re making an attempt to coach 20,000 feminine coaches, mothers and different former athletes to be coaches to advertise youth. In order that’s much less of a controversial subject, however it’s one we care about as a worth.” 

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

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