Nike Inc.’s U.S. director of governance and public affairs, Orson C. Porter, sent a letter this week to throw Nike’s support behind a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance in Nashville that would have firms doing business with Nashville-Davidson County metropolitan government put in place nondiscrimination policies protecting workers on the basis of their ethnicity and sexual orientation.
From The City Paper:
“By supporting this measure, you support the guiding principle that every American deserves a chance to compete and prosper on a level playing field,” the Nike letter reads.
“At Nike, we believe diversity and inclusion is about respecting our differences, leveraging our strengths and maximizing opportunity for everyone,” the letter continues. “Nike is passionately supportive of its employees, respectful of our consumers and committed to equality of athletes. As a result, these values make us a better company and more competitive in our industry.”
Nike employs an estimated 2,000 Tennesseans.
WSMV Nashville reports that the bill has become a matter of religious debate too, with one group arguing that there is a moral imperative to pass such legislation, while another group is arguing that it is tantamount to condoning homosexuality and that it will be bad for the economy:
Since then, it has sparked concern from groups with agendas of all types. Together, 20 Nashville clergy members sent a letter urging the council to pass the new law, citing moral reasons.
“I think it’s a justice issue, purely and simply, and an issue of morality, and this church has always tried to speak out, especially for those who may be powerless,” said the Rev. Linda White, pastor of Brookemeade Congregational United Church of Christ.
Around the same time, council members received another letter — this time, from the Southern Baptist Convention. It said passing this bill will hurt Metro’s economy.
“Many businesses in Metro who will decide they’d rather not do business with Metro if they’re going to have to comply with this ordinance, and thus, there’ll be less competition in competitive bidding,” said Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The ordinance was set to receive its third and final vote Tuesday but the council decided to defer the vote until the next meeting. This is a procedural move due to the fact that several of the bill’s sponsors, who helped to clear the bill on its second hearing, were absent due to the spring-break.
Over the past decade Nike Inc. has sort to reestablish a reputation of respecting workers’ rights and the environment, admitting mistakes concerning using foreign labor, taking steps to create more corporate responsibility in how it outsources and signing on to sustainability innitiatives.