Nike announced a new initiative that appeared, on the surface, to improve employees’ lives: It would expand its subsidized on-site daycare program by outsourcing it to a partner called Endeavor Schools, which will run a facility 10 minutes away from the Nike campus. Prices would be kept competitive. According to Bloomberg, this would allow the 30-year-old program to accommodate more families, since it has more than 500 people on the waitlist. (The current facility can accommodate 500 families.)
But Nike families aren’t happy with this new proposal. Employees have a petition with more than 1,300 signatures, a tenth of which are from parents who are currently on the waitlist, to halt this new plan and keep the current facility. These employees are concerned about whether Endeavor, which is a for-profit business, will provide their children with the same level of care. They’re also upset that this switch will mean firing more than 100 teachers who run the current on-site program. (Bloomberg says that these teachers have been offered $10,000 bonuses to keep working through the transition, and will be offered jobs at the new facility, although they won’t have their current Nike stock options.)
For Nike’s part, it believed this switch would make life better for Nike parents, many of whom struggle to find good childcare, since Oregon is full of “childcare deserts” where there are three times as many children who need daycare as there as spots available. But the backlash is possibly also symptomatic of the fact that Nike’s leadership is not in tune with the needs of its employees.
When we reached out to a Nike spokesperson, she said that the company was doing its best to be transparent. “We wanted to give parents as much advanced notice as possible,” says Sandra Carreon-John, Nike’s global corporate communications director. “This (transition to the new facility) is not happening overnight, but is between 18 and 24 months away.” She also wanted to point out that Nike has heard from some parents who are very happy about the new daycare facility because it means that their children will finally be able to get a spot off the waitlist.
This news comes a year after a New York Times exposé about how Nike’s corporate culture was toxic for many female employees who complained about sexual harassment and gender discrimination. This led to the company firing many senior executives and promising a host of policies that would improve corporate culture.
For now, the plans for the new childcare facility are slated to go forward, despite employees’ vociferous complaints.