Just Kind of Do it


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Back in the 1990’s, Nike’s business strategy revolved solely around profit. Phil Night denied responsibility, procrastinated proactive changes, and brushed off ethical decisions as a public relations issue. However, after 1998, Nike made drastic changes in their oversea working conditions and apparel industry as a whole after their sales dropped. Now, were they really committed to international human rights? Did their ethical practices hold up?

Nike Kind of Does It

As you can see, Nike stayed somewhat committed to preserving human rights.  When I first started reading this article, I was not surprised by the new Malaysian scandal of Nike taking passports and cutting wages of international employees. However, I was surprised at Nike’s ability to learn from their mistakes. Instead of denying responsibility, Nike now admitted to their breach in their code of conduct with their contractors. Twenty years ago, Phil Night would have claimed it was their contractors’ duty to pay attention to ethics of their employees and Nike does not need to worry about it. Now, they are accepting responsibility right off the bat and actually meeting with not only the one, but 30 other contractors in Malaysia to discuss enforcing labor standards.

But here, Nike still only reacted. As Tim Connor, a labor-rights activist from Oxam Australia, puts it, “we are looking for a systematic change that improves conditions across the supply chain, not solutions once problems are exposed.” Despite them accepting responsibility, Nike still allowed the working conditions to get that bad. Nike was reactive instead of proactive. They turned their heads until the public got involved. They only learned from their mistakes in the sense that negative public publicity hurts their sales and denying it only makes it worse. As a result, they quickly accepted responsibility in order to escape profit loss.  Just like in the 1990’s, Nike is still largely concerned with profit, but now they know how to manage it better.

Nevertheless, Nike still has implemented more ethical concerns into their business strategy. For example, Nike successfully has adopted a VP of Corporate responsibility that’s goal is to implement corporate responsibility into Nike’s operations. One successful team she manages is Nike’s Consideration Team that looks for innovating and sustainable designs to reduce environmental wastes. This team uses a computer program that calculates the environmental costs of a shoe design. While maintaining style, Nike has effectively created Green shoes that practically generate no waste through changing little technical designs and has saved over $800,000,000 worth of materials.

Overall, I believe Nike has improved their ethical practices since the 1990’s. However, I agree with Tim Connor that being reactive is not enough. As a leader in the industry, Nike needs to set the precedent that working conditions need to improve. They need to take proactive steps to ensure their contractors are holding up to their contracts. The public shouldn’t have to raise concerns for Nike to enforce international human rights.

The Art of Lying


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If I told you lying was good for you, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But in my personal experience, lying is an appropriate response to particular conflicts – I’m not lying. Simply put, we lie because it works. This contradicts pretty much everything I was told by my parents growing up. It was always “tell the truth” and “never lie.” However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to learn that lying serves me better than telling the truth. Now, before anyone judges me, it is necessary to clarify what I consider lying or in what situations I might lie to someone. I’ve lied most often by omitting the truth, embellishing stories, or agreeing with someone when I really don’t.  A simple example is telling my parents I got home from a night out a couple hours earlier than I actually did. The reasons for this lie include avoiding punishment (for my sake) and reducing my parents’ stress (for their sake). So is lying wrong? Most people would probably say that lying is always wrong, except when there’s a good reason for it – which means that it’s not always wrong. Although it may not sound good, we all lie to some extent in our lives. When we do it well, we get what we want. We lie to avoid awkwardness or punishment. We lie to maintain relationships and please others.

Mike Daisey’s “Retraction” episode is a unique case because he clearly embellished facts and made up a story in which he intentionally duped his audiences into believing. His reasoning/excuse/retraction is that he is an artist, not a journalist and so he shouldn’t be held to the same standards as a reporter. Throughout his “Retraction,” he constantly denies having “lied” but regrets not informing his audiences of his fictional work, which is billed as “nonfiction” on the program. It is clear to me that Mike Daisey lied despite his denials. The question now is whether he is an unethical liar. Does he fit into the category above where it is okay to lie? This may sound strange but if he had not been caught it would have been okay for him to lie. Bear with my reasoning. His monologues were beneficial to society. They exposed wrongdoing on Apple’s part even if the specific facts were embellished or made up. People were made aware of a serious problem and appropriate responses were made. But then when it was revealed that Daisey lied, it partially undid what he had set out to accomplish. As a result, society did not benefit from Daisey’s work.

Obviously, Daisey should never have allowed his work to be represented as journalism. Surely, he could have insisted it be represented as theatre, or parody, or exaggeration. But he did not do this. However, the fact remains that Apple still has poor working conditions that are unacceptable. The retraction is about what Daisy said he personally witnessed and has nothing to do at all with what actually happens in the factories. It really is important that we forget all about Daisey’s exaggerations when it comes to Apple’s factories. Daisey’s retraction should tell something about Daisey and not Apple.