In the recent episode of the OneHaas podcast, we featured EMBA 18 alumna Allie Foote for the pride month at the Crossroads Series. If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, take a look at these highlights. She talks about her exciting work as Director of Digital Strategy at Nike and co-chair of its Pride Network, its ERG for its LGBTQIA+ community. 

Staying true to its Just Do It Message, Nike recently rolled out their Digital First strategy. While digital platforms help customers reach the brand 24/7, it also helps them build and engage both internal and external communities. Drawing from her own experience at Nike, Allie shares these three things she learned from the job.

It’s All About Helping the Community Succeed

As soon as the pandemic broke out, Nike knew how difficult it was for people to stay active when they were cooped up at home. In a study done by Global Web Index, 51% of their respondents from 17 countries said they worked out at home. Nike took this cue as a signal to help more customers reach their fitness goals even if they couldn’t leave the house. Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club have taken down the paywall for the community. The company still offers a premium subscription, but its loyal customers can access free fitness content through a free account.

“We’re really trying to think about how we leverage all those different mediums to reach all of our consumers regardless of where they are on in their athletic or movement journey. Nike run club is an amazing way that we can provide something for our consumers to help them reach their goals.”

Allow Authenticity, Diversity, and Safe Spaces

Through her experience with pride ERGs both at PWC and Nike, Allie shared the importance of allowing people to be themselves. Those who work in environments that discourage authenticity, especially the LGBTQIA+ community, spend a lot of time hiding who they are. People’s mental health is greatly enhanced when they are allowed to be their authentic selves at work. As a larger effect, diverse teams have varied perspectives, therefore bringing more innovative solutions.

“I think so many people are spending so much energy and time and brain space in the workplace hiding pieces of themselves. It just doesn’t make for a productive or happy employee. I think that being able to bring your authentic self to work is so critical for both your mental health. There’s so much research out there that shows that diverse teams come up with the best solutions. I found at Nike it’s been a very comfortable place to be exactly who I am and to show all pieces of me.”

Always Give Back

She discussed how important it is to give back to the larger community, the ones outside of the customer base. Internally, they walk the talk, but they also know how important it is to show support to the communities they are a part of. Ones that clearly represent their employee resource groups, just like one of the programs they support called GenderCool. It’s a youth-led movement aiming to help break misconceptions and create positive experiences among young, transgender, and non-binary young people. 

“Nike is phenomenal, in my opinion, in giving back to communities. We have a whole team that’s focused on that and thinking about how do we give back locally, as well as regionally. To the communities that kind of represent our various employee resource groups. So for pride, you know, we have a number of different partnerships. I think that one I’m excited about, I really love, you know, Gender Cool. Right now all the bills that are targeting trans kids in sports which I feel is a fundamental human right to participate in sport. It was such an important part of my upbringing that I don’t want to see any kid left out just because of fears. Gender cool is a really amazing organization.”

While there’s still lots of work to do in the pride community, like more unisex bathrooms, right? So whether it’s at Nike or outside of it, Allie emphasized that communities tend to work better when there’s acceptance. She shares one practice she found effective which is the right use of pronouns. She emphasized that by doing that she’s able to communicate that she’s a safe space and people can be authentic about her.

Want to listen to the full episode? Click here.

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