Nike announces changing pregnancy policy for women
Nike announced that it is adding language to future contracts for
female athletes that would protest their pay during pregnancy.
The move comes following backlash and criticism that the brand
received last week as it came to light that compensation was being
stopped when female athletes became pregnant while under endorsement
deals. The pay freeze would continue until some time after giving
Nike maintained that it had updated its policy last year and the new
contracts will not allow the company to reduce pay of the athletes
on the said criteria.
“Moving forward, our contracts for female athletes will include
written terms that reinforce our policy. We recognise we can do more
and that there is an important opportunity for the sports industry
to evolve to support female athletes,” a spokesman said. In
addition, the company indicated that they will “provide appropriate
assurances for existing contracts to reinforce our policy.”
Olympic runner Alysia Montaño wrote in a New York Times op-ed
published that when she spoke to representatives at Nike about her
intent to start a family while still competing, the company
responded, “We’ll just pause your contract and stop paying you.”
Montaño, a seven-time USA Champion, has famously competed while
Other runners who have worked with Nike faced similar situations.
In response to questions about the contracts, Nike has revealed that
they do indeed adjust compensation for what they call
performance-based payment reductions. While these reductions are
framed broadly, Nike did note that the provisions did not
specifically exclude pregnancy or childbirth.
“Nike is proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes. As is common
practice in our industry, our agreements do include
performance-based payment reductions. Historically, a few female
athletes had performance-based reductions applied. We recognised
that there was inconsistency in our approach across different sports
and in 2018 we standardised our approach across all sports so that
no female athlete is penalised financially for pregnancy,” a Nike
spokesperson wrote in a statement.
The US is the only developed country without a national paid
parental leave program.