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Hannah Jones rewrites the book at Nike

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in Profiles in Leadership

Nike once found itself in a defensive position, scrutinized for social injustices. By 2011, though, it had completely turned things around, receiving top recognition for sustainability reporting.

Stewarding the company through its global sustainability strategies is ­Hannah Jones, Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike.

The work itself is very much a work-in-progress, she says. “Our team often says: ‘If you’re not comfortable with constant change, then you’re probably not going to be comfortable here.’ No­­body has written this book.”

Her team also uses as its motto one of the company’s ad campaign taglines: “There’s no finish line.”

“What’s most exciting about our culture is that we have this tremendous focus on innovation and how to think about things differently.”

At Nike, innovation is both a top-down and a grassroots effort.

In a large organization, top-down support is critical, she says. It sets a tone. It makes people accountable. And it means you have a way to talk about a collective vision and strategy.

But the grassroots influence is also important. Especially among younger workers, “There’s a huge thirst to be involved in sustainability. From the talent acquisition standpoint, we find that most people say that ‘responsibility’ or ‘sustainability’ are reasons they would like to come to Nike.”

— Adapted from “How She Leads: Hannah Jones of Nike,” Maya Albanese, GreenBiz.com.

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