Second Nike Executive Leaves in Wake of Workplace Complaints

A second veteran executive is leaving Nike Inc. after internal complaints about inappropriate workplace behavior at the sneaker and sportswear giant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Jayme Martin, a vice president and general manager of global categories for Nike, was forced out of the company and is no longer an employee, the people said. He joined Nike in 1997 and, in his latest role, oversaw several of Nike’s major business units, including women’s, running, training, and basketball.

A Nike spokesman said the company doesn’t discuss personnel moves. Mr. Martin didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Nike Brand president Trevor Edwards at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in 2013. Photo: Bloomberg News

Mr. Martin was a top lieutenant to Trevor Edwards, the Nike brand president, who resigned his position Thursday, the same day Chief Executive Mark Parker told employees the company had received recent complaints about inappropriate workplace behavior and was revamping its leadership team.

The departures mark the latest fallout from a wave of misconduct allegations against high-profile executives, including former Wynn Resorts Ltd. chairman and CEO Steve Wynnand senior Ford Motor Co. executive Raj Nair. Last month, Nike rival Lululemon Athletica Inc. said its CEO Laurent Potdevin was leaving the company for unspecified inappropriate behavior.

A number of companies have said they are encouraging employees to come forward with any complaints related to sexual harassment or other misconduct. Some companies also are examining their internal procedures for handling such issues. Nike encouraged employees Thursday to use an internal hotline to raise concerns and promised to improve how its human-resources team handled such matters.

Nike has received complaints pertaining to Mr. Martin but no direct complaints about Mr. Edwards, one person said. Mr. Martin has already left the company, while Mr. Edwards will remain on the payroll as a consultant and retire as a Nike employee in August. Both men spent decades at the company and climbed its leadership ranks.

Messrs. Martin and Edwards protected male subordinates who engaged in behavior that was demeaning to female colleagues, according to another person. Their lieutenants bullied people who weren’t in their group, this person said, such as women and individuals from foreign countries.

Mr. Edwards didn’t respond to requests for comment. Another Nike spokesman said Thursday the company hadn’t received specific complaints about Mr. Edwards. Mr. Parker didn’t provide details about the alleged behavior or say whether the complaints included Mr. Edwards or other executives. Mr. Martin wasn’t named in Thursday’s memo.

The departures of two longtime company veterans is unusual for Nike, which has prized loyalty and groomed talent from within. Executives have spoken openly about Nike’s unique and competitive culture, borrowed from the world of sports and channeled into the sneaker industry.

In his memoir published in 2016, co-founder Phil Knight described early management meetings at Nike, which the all-male team called “Buttfaces.” The meetings, he wrote, were as much about bonding as it was about business.

“There was none of that smartest-guy-in-the-room foolishness,” he wrote. “Our meetings were defined by contempt, disdain, and heaps of abuse. Oh, what abuse. We called each other terrible names. We rained down verbal blows. While floating ideas, and shooting down ideas, and hashing out threats to the company, the last thing we took into account was someone’s feelings.”

Mr. Knight, who retired as Nike’s chairman in 2016, remains the company’s largest shareholder and as chairman emeritus attends board meetings as a nonvoting member. Mr. Knight couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday.

Nike recently has been emphasizing efforts to make its product offerings more inclusive. The company has expanded its Jordan sneaker line with more women’s sizes and colors, offered basketball shoes in honor of Black History Month, and sold shirts and other gear bearing the word “Equality” which Nike says “support and celebrate our commitment to inclusion for all.”

Write to Sara Germano at sara.germano@wsj.com and Joann S. Lublin at joann.lublin@wsj.com

Appeared in the March 17, 2018, print edition as ‘Complaints Lead To 2nd Nike Exit.’

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