In 2019, Nike and other brands were accused by the media, human rights advocates and organizations, and members of the U.S. government of potentially having supply chain ties to human rights violations of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, China. Nike had spent decades investing in improving its supply chain reputation, building trusted partner relationships with suppliers, and taking bold steps to publicly act as a leader in corporate responsibility. But now the company was again being forced to respond to an accusation of failing to uphold human rights due to alleged forced labor.
Were any of Nike’s long-standing manufacturing partners willingly or unwillingly employing slave labor or using raw materials obtained through slave labor? Nike had oversight of its suppliers to adhere to the International Labor Organization standards, but how much influence did the company have over the Chinese government to follow them? If the accusations were true, should Nike leave China as a supply base and market?