In a follow up to being named Fast Company‘s design company of the year, Nike CEO Mark Parker checked in with the publication and weighed in on a wide array of topics, most notably, Nike’s decision to pull an Air Force 1 shoe featuring a 13-star Betsy Ross flag on the heel.
Originally planned for a Fourth of July launch, the Wall Street Journal reported that activist and Nike signee Colin Kaepernick had pushed them to pull the shoe because of the flag’s association with white nationalist groups.
When asked about pulling the shoe, Parker didn’t back off of the decision. “There are occasions when we’ve decided to pull our product and services from the market. The decision [regarding] that Air Max product was based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the Fourth of July holiday. That’s the reason we pulled it, not to create a source of polarization. We make those decisions, sometimes. They’re rare, but it does happen. We’re trying not to offend.”
When pushed on Nike’s decision to “take sides” and stand behind activists including Colin Kaepernick, Serena Williams and Megan Rapinoe, the CEO said part of the brand’s personality includes a willingness to make its values public. Parker explained, “There are values that are important to the brand and the company that we’re not going to shy away from. We support the views of our employees, our athletes. And yeah, we will put a stake in the ground and take a stand. I don’t want to suggest that we don’t. I think it’s probably pretty obvious that we do, and that’s a part of who we are as a company.”
On receiving criticism from both liberals and conservatives, Parker concluded, “That’s not a reason not to have a voice. It’s important for me personally, but also for the company, to stand for some values. We don’t shy away from that.”