Tennis star Serena Williams pushes for diversity in Nike’s workforce


Tennis star Serena Williams pushes for diversity in Nike’s workforce
2021-10-02 03:00 PM
0 min read

(Tennis news) Nike CEO John Donahoe has given credit to Serena Williams for diversifying the company’s workforce. Nike and Williams teamed up in 2019 to create 'Serena Williams Design Crew' (SWDC), an apprentice program for aspiring designers in New York with the aim to promote diversity and give an opportunity for designers from various ethical and racial backgrounds to produce an inspired collection.

Serena Williams has previously expressed her desire to see more black and brown designers working on her products. Danahoe said “Serena Williams is obviously one of the greatest tennis players in history and has been a long-term Nike athlete. About five years ago before I joined full time, [Serena] came to our campus and said, ‘You know what? I would like to see more footwear and apparel designers that look like me, I would like to see more Black and brown designers that create the product that you put my name on.”

Serena’s initiative comes as a welcome change in an industry that already lacks diversity. She has given aspiring black and brown designers a platform to showcase their talents to arguably one of the biggest sporting brands in the world. It was a wonderful challenge and a very appropriate challenge because the footwear and apparel design community is not particularly diverse," Donahoe said. "So we created the Serena Williams Design Crew where young Black and brown designers could apply, show their work and join Nike as a designer.

“I'll tell a small story of a wonderful individual, Juan Huerta, who joined Nike retail in New York five years ago and his goal was to become a Nike designer. Two years ago, he submitted his portfolio to become part of the Serena Williams Design Crew, and out of hundreds of applicants, he was one of the 10 selected, and today is a graphic designer for the footwear team."

Earlier this summer, that design crew launched the first Serena Williams collection. It’s a wonderful example of how one of our elite athletes has made us better, challenged us in a completely appropriate way, and by listening to the athlete, it’s made us rethink how we recruit, apprentice and train designers," said Donahoe.

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