An internal memo sent to staff today by Nike chairman, president and CEO Mark Parker announced several major changes to the athletic-wear giant’s marketing department while also mentioning an investigation into unspecified behavior within the organization.
In the biggest move, Trevor Edwards, a 25-year veteran of the organization whom many saw as Parker’s potential heir, will resign from his position as Nike brand president and retire in August.
Elliot Hill, Nike’s president of geographies and integrated marketplace, will be promoted to the role of president of consumer and marketplace. It is unclear whether the company will seek to fill Edwards’ position, and Parker himself will remain in his role until at least 2020.
A Nike spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve become aware of reports of behavior occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment at a time when we are accelerating our transition to the next stage of growth and advancing our culture,” Parker’s memo began. “This disturbs and saddens me.”
The CEO did not elaborate on the specifics of that behavior but noted that leadership had “heard from strong and courageous employees,” adding, “This has been a very difficult time and we are still talking to team members to better understand what we need to change.”
“Our culture is one based on mutual respect, inclusion and teamwork and we want Nike to be a place where everyone has an opportunity to play an important role and succeed,” the note continued. “Behavior that is inconsistent with our values has no place at Nike and we will continue to look into matters and take appropriate action where we find behavior against our code of conduct.”
Parker wrote that the company plans to initiate “a comprehensive review of our HR systems and practices along with elevating our complaint process for matter of respect issues” while also investing more heavily in diversity and inclusion within the organization.
Before listing a “Matter of Respect” hotline and email address at which employees can request confidential meetings, Parker noted that Nike will also create “a mandatory manager training program” designed to reinforce those core values.
Beyond the Edwards resignation and Hill’s promotion, Parker wrote that veteran Michael Spillane will continue to lead the company’s categories, design, product and merchandising work in the president of product and merchandising role, with Hill handling all marketing, geographies, Nike Direct, global sales and all things Jordan Brand. Both Hill and Spillane report directly to Parker.
Parker then thanked Edwards for his “significant contributions to Nike over the last 25 years” and announced that he himself is “committed to serve as chairman, president and CEO for Nike beyond 2020.”
The note concluded: “I am determined to make the necessary changes so that our culture and our company can evolve and grow. We all want to create an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute to our shared success.”
Nike, which long dominated the global sneaker market, has lost North American share to competitors like Adidas in recent years. A “reverse auction” digital agency review first reported by AdAge in January also indicated that the company looks to streamline its overall marketing budget.