UPDATE: After confirming plans in May to update its policies pertaining to pregnant athletes, Nike sent an internal e-mail earlier this week outlining further revised guidelines. Runner and former Nike athlete Allyson Felix shared the memo yesterday in an Instagram post, which outlines the company’s plans to waive performance-pay reductions for 18 months, six months longer than the previously-announced year.
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Our voices have power. NIKE has joined in officially and contractually providing maternal protection to the female athletes they sponsor. This means that female athletes will no longer be financially penalized for having a child. I’m grateful to John Slusher and Mark Parker for their leadership and their desire to guide NIKE as a company who believes that we are all more than athletes. And THANK YOU to the brands who have already made this commitment. Who is next?
“Our voices have power. NIKE has joined in officially and contractually providing maternal protection to the female athletes they sponsor. This means that female athletes will no longer be financially penalized for having a child,” Felyx wrote in her caption.
She added: “I’m grateful to John Slusher and Mark Parker for their leadership and their desire to guide NIKE as a company who believes that we are all more than athletes. And THANK YOU to the brands who have already made this commitment. Who is next?”
UPDATE (May 27, 2019): Nike has confirmed the changes it will make for pregnant athletes, as reported by The New York Times. The publication states that the company will waive performance-pay reductions for 12 months, for those “who decide to have a baby.” Nike will add terms that reinforce this policy; “We’ve recognized Nike, Inc., can do more, and there is an important opportunity for the sports industry collectively to evolve to better support female athletes,” stated by Nike spokesperson Sandra Carreon-John.
The decision to update is a response in the past weeks to both NYT Opinion pieces by Alysia Montaño and Allyson Felix, whose video feature can be viewed above.
ORIGINAL STORY (May 17, 2019): In light of Olympic runner Alysia Montaño’s whistleblowing New York Times op-ed last week — which revealed that Nike had cut her pay when she got pregnant — the brand has announced plans to alter its practices after receiving a storm of backlash.
Nike has expressed that it intends to include “written terms that reinforce our policy” in future contracts for female athletes, as detailed on Friday in an official statement posted to its website:
Nike has supported thousands of female athletes for decades. We have learned and grown in how to best support our female athletes and have always worked to do our best to play a strong role in championing, celebrating and supporting female athletes and we are committed to continuing to do so.
Last year we standardized our approach across all sports to support our female athletes during pregnancy, but we recognize we can go even further.
The company goes on to state that it supports “women as they decide how to be both great mothers and great athletes,” as well as challenging the entire sports industry to “evolve.”
Montaño’s piece was eye-opening for many reasons, one looming point being Nike’s recent “Dream Crazier” marketing. The advertising touts narration from brand athlete and new mother Serena Williams, who ironically says during the spot: “winning 23 Grand Slams, having a baby and then coming back for more. Crazy, crazy, crazy.”
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My face when I watched Nike Roll out an ad campaign encouraging women to Dream Crazy. Nike: “Dream Crazy “ Me: “Maternity Leave? “ Nike: “whoa, but not too crazy!” #DreamMaternity @nytopinion Video Op-Ed link in bio. The standard in sports contracts are standard for men- we need to ensure we have protections in place that support female athletes.