You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!


Somehow I missed this last month, even though I did mention the big turn-around at Nike. You can get some sense of just what I meant by checking out this Press Release from Nike, which starts out like this:

Nike’s commitment to industry-leading transparency in its social responsibility reporting has led to the company being named the top U.S. company and one of the world’s top 10 in the current SustainAbility Global Reporters Program ranking released today.

Here’s the SustainAbility ranking that Nike’s press-release refers to: Tomorrow’s Value: Leading companies
The ranking is the result of a

benchmarking survey of leading practice in corporate sustainability reporting, published in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Standard and Poor’s. Entitled Tomorrow’s Value, the report ranks the world’s leaders in corporate sustainability reporting, transparency and disclosure.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Nike’s history, the company’s appearance in the Top 10 here is striking because, not so long ago, the company was widely reviled as a villain in the world of the international garment industry.

Of course, this is a ranking of transparency, not social performance. It’s possible, in principle, to be open & transparent about lousy performance and to do little or nothing of substance to do any better. But there’s nearly universal agreement that transparency is a pretty good start. Sunshine, as they say, is the best disinfectant.

p.s. This makes my prediction about Wal-Mart seem even more plausible. Some of you may recall that, back in March, I predicted that “within 5 years, Wal-Mart will be at the TOP of at least some business ethics / corporate social responsibility / corporate citizenship rankings.” Skeptics may say that it won’t happen, but the Nike case illustrates that it could.

[Thanks to Laura Hartman for the note.]

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