The women of Nike, the sportswear company, got tired of their complaints to human resources about sexual harassment and discrimination falling on deaf ears. The women experienced retribution for filing complaints, and several high-level women left the company, sharing that they left because of frustration with the toxic company culture that they could not influence. So the women of Nike took matters into their own hands—and the public saw another example of employees bringing about change that would not have happened otherwise. Julie Creswell, Kevin Draper, and Rachel Abrams, writing for the New York Times, report that after years of complaining to human resources and seeing no evidence of change or accountability for bad behavior within the company, a group of women decided to covertly survey their female peers, “inquiring whether they had been the victim of sexual harassment and gender discrimination.” Those who had a complaint or a story to tell completed a questionnaire, sharing shocking and frustrating anecdotes:
- Explanations from several high-level women about why they had exited the company, including a pattern of watching men get promoted while equally or better qualified women were passed over.
- A range of stories about demeaning behavior toward women, such as male superiors referring to women using a vulgar term for women’s genitals or being called a “stupid bitch” by a boss.
- Stories of women being excluded from the inner circle of mostly male decision makers.
- Examples of a culture belittling to women where male supervisors openly discussed their favorite strip clubs during work outings.
- The story of a senior manager who mentioned a female employee’s breasts in an email to her.
- The story of a manager who kept magazines on his desk with scantily clad women on the cover and bragged about his supply of condoms.