26 September 2018

Shareholders pressure Nike over political spending

Protesters in Colin Kaepernick shirts

Nike in another shareholder tussle over political contributions as investors express concern over alignment of values.

Nike is under increasing pressure regarding political spending as investors demand greater transparency  and reporting on political contributions.

Aligning values

Shareholders are due to vote at the company’s annual general meeting in the wake of  the sportswear giant unveiling an advertising campaign featuring NFL quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick. The campaign led some consumers to call for a boycott of the company and others to buy more product. Investors are pressing for greater disclosures to ensure alignment of the company’s core values with its contributions. The Nike board is recommending that its shareholders vote against the resolution for greater political-spending transparency.

Competitive disadvantage

According to Nike, the company’s existing policies and disclosures have proper oversight and give shareholders enough information to evaluate any risk related to political contributions, according to its proxy statement. According to the proxy statement, enhanced transparency would put Nike at a ‘competitive disadvantage’ because it would reveal the company’s ‘strategies and priorities designed to protect the economic future.’ Nike has rebuffed previous demands for greater disclosure, and received proposals for improved political spending disclosures five times since 2012.