Nike has been in the headlines lately. Emerging from those headlines is the story of a significant loss of opportunity within a key segment of Nike’s customers.
Nike is the biggest sports footwear and apparel company in the world, commanding $34.4 billion in revenue last year. And yet Nike’s women’s business made up only about a fifth of the total business.
Women’s activewear is the fastest growing segment and female consumers drive the current $45.9 BILLION athleisure spend.
Whatever the story is/was at Nike, by not having female leadership, ideas or feedback, there was a direct bottom line impact (in addition to the hard and soft costs to deal with the issues at hand). There was clearly a loss of women’s dollars.
If Nike had thought through the lens of its female customers, what could have been different?
There’s a lesson in this example for HR pros. If we want to be impactful to our businesses and their respective bottom lines, we must rethink HR through the lens of our customers. What is important to them? What is critical to help our customers compete in the new world of work?
New World of Talent: Attracting and managing a blended workforce means listening to the needs of full-time employees, freelancers, on-demand talent and others who make up the collective gig workforce. Sourcing this talent will take a different approach, a blend of AI/data with a human touch. Onboarding/Offboarding this talent will require agility and lead to an Ongoing Relationship Management approach. Engaging this talent means holding hands with your IT team to support and communicate with them.
New World of Leadership: HR leadership must evolve to focus on key customer drivers. These drivers include fluid team performance vs. individual performance, inclusivity beyond hiring quotas and throwing out hierarchy and org charts. HR leaders must think like their customers. Are customers impressed with “top workplace” awards or do they want more flexibility in their benefits choices or where they work?
New World of Learning: Who enjoys sitting for 2 days in classroom training? Or mandated video “learning”? On-demand, personalized, game-oriented learning will continue to dominate the corporate learning environment. In addition, we must recognize a 4-year degree may not be the golden ticket it once was, and therefore, how do we source for needed skills or develop just-in-time skills?
Just like at Nike, there are limitless opportunities to listen to our customers and make significant changes. It’s not about “breaking HR”, finally getting a seat at the table or promoting yourself as a “business-first” HR person. The opportunity is to understand the new world of work and listen to what your customers need as part of that world.
It doesn’t take a Shoe Dog too long to learn new tricks. And now the HR profession needs to start barking up the right tree.
Kathy Rapp is the CEO of hrQ where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent for permanent or project roles across the country. Prior to joining hrQ Kathy booked more than 15 years of diverse HR leadership experience working in F500s and start-up organizations. A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent insights can be gleamed from the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen and AC/DC.