If it weren't for the fact that thousands of manufacturers all over the developed world are diligently and relentlessly reducing their carbon emmissions, contributions to landfills and wasted energy of all sorts through their commitment to lean, I wouldn't care too much what the self-indulgent crowd at Nike is up to. But I know too many manufacturers making the plant and their communities genuinely better places to let the latest from these charlatans go unchallenged.
Nike is looking for a "Code For A Better World Fellow" – a title so goofy only an outfit like Nike could dream it up. The person they want to hire will "work in Nike's Sustainable Business and Innovation team." The fellow will work with "Nike's data managers to landscape current data and craft a desired future state; manage the formatting and release of data to the open data community; curate use of the data within the community; bring knowledge from the open data community back to Nike as actionable steps; attend conferences related to open data to grow Nike's network and profile in this space; and ultimately create/steward the creation of prototypes that demonstrate how opening Nike's sustainability data can be a force to drive change." The goal of all of this is to create "future where creation of products isn't tied to scarce natural resources like water and oil; where manufacturing is lean, green, equitable and empowered; and where everyone, everywhere has access to sport." That language is so fundamentally stupid it is hard to imagine serious business people wrote it -but at Nike words are far more important than reality.
Regardless, Nike – no need to pay anyone else. I'm your fellow. I have already found the 'current data' and found data in the 'open community' to get the job done!
According to your own data, 94% of your shoes are made in Vietnam, China and Indonesia. According to the UK Telegraph, at last check these countries rank 90th, 84th and 82nd out of 141 on the list of the greenest and most livable countries – compared to numbers like 23rd in the USA, 25th in the UK, and 8th in Australia – the places you sell your shoes. Throw a little more 'open data' into the mix – according to Google Earth you ship the shoes about 7,000 miles from where you make them to where you sell them. That means those Nike trainers leave a pretty deep carbon footprint. If you want to be sure "manufacturing is lean, green, equitable and empowered," you might want to quit ducking the environmental regulations in the developed nations where you sell your shoes by having them made in some of the worst polluting places on earth. You maybe could think about saving the energy you burn to transport the shoes halfway around the globe.
A little more data – you pay kids 50 cents an hour in Vietnam – less in China and Indonesia - while your low end shoes go for sixty bucks. That isn't going to give "everyone, everywhere has access to sport" – at least not access to sport wearing Nike shoes while they play. That Vietnamese kid would have to work for three weeks to buy your shoes. Put another way, sixty bucks for a pair of shoes to a Vietnamese kid is the equivalent of charging Americans $1,400 a pair – a tad beyond most folks reach.
So there you have it Nike – make the shoes in the responsible environmental regions where you sell 'em. Pay kids in the third world the same wages Americans, Europeans Canadians and Aussies make, and let ' em make shoes for their own country they can affords to buy. Just like you asked – I combined your data and open access data, and figured out a simple way for you to make manufacturing 'lean and green', and to give kids everywhere 'access to sport'. And I didn't even need to do any of that "disruptive, radical, jaw-dropping innovation" you're looking for.
But perhaps Nike isn't really looking for a solution all – perhaps they don't really care about the environment or third world kids access to sport. Perhaps Nike saw increasing concern for the health of the planet and health of its inhabitants as an opportunity to be taken advantage of, a chance to spin themselves into a position to sell more shoes. I'm pretty sure that's the case, else they would accept the cost of of environmentally compliant manufacturing and pay people enough to afford Nike products.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that there are two sorts of companies these days. The Nikes who view social problems as something to use for their advantage, and those who see the need to protect the environment and the need to create healthy lives for people as serious obligations – requiring the hard work of actually becoming lean and green, and committing to their employees and communities.
if you read Evolving Excellence, odds are you are among the latter and you should be proud of yourselves. If you work for Nike, you should be ashamed to admit it.