Brands Taking Stands

It’s a well-known fact that women have not been afforded the same opportunities or pay in sports. In 2019, it’s estimated that the US women’s national soccer team drew more than a billion viewers during the World Cup yet we are all aware of the pay gap with their male counterparts. The NBA and WNBA have an even larger gender pay gap. The highest-paid player in the WNBA makes roughly 20% of the lowest-paid player in the NBA. While no single company can erase the gap, some of the leading sports marketers are proactively addressing the lack of equality in sports. These are some of them…

In 2018, Adidas started its She Breaks Barriers to show it’s continued support to break down the barriers holding women back in sports. In 2019, the brand found United for Girls, a new initiative from the U.S. Soccer Foundation aiming to increase soccer opportunities for women and girls in unjust communities. Their mission is to double the number of girl participation and the number of U.S. Soccer Foundation female coach-mentors over the next few years.

After the U.S. women won the World Cup in 2019, Budweiser became the first official beer sponsor of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League. Their #WontStopWatching hashtag is letting the world know they have a deeper understanding of the gender gap issue and that they will leverage their power to affect change.

Burton knows that snowboarding is a male-dominated sport, but the leader of the pack is looking to change that. Their Women’s Learn to Ride Camp for riders of all abilities, along with Burton’s own largely female team, make Burton a top brand behind women and girls. Plus, women represent over 40% of Burton’s leadership team. Taking it further, they have a non-profit, Chill, which helps young girls overcome challenges in boardsports, teaching them core values like respect, patience, persistence, courage, responsibility, and pride.

Luna Bar proactively attacked the pay disparity in 2019 when it announced a pledge to cover the difference between the women’s and men’s World Cup roster bonuses by paying out $31,250 to each of the 23 players on the U.S. women’s team

Nike encourages an active lifestyle and believes that “girls who move, move the world.” Together, with Women Win and Gurls Talk, Nike launched the Gurls Talk Made to Play Fund to support the female coaches who are changing the lives of young girls in their communities. Women coaches were given funding for their projects impacting girls under the age of 14, as well as leadership and mentorship training from Women Win.

Orvis is committed to introducing women to fly fishing. Their 50/50 On the Water initiative looks to create more opportunities for women to cast a line and catch impressive fish.

ROXY has an all-female team of professional surfers. This team is empowering for girls and women as many say they steer clear of the sport out of intimidation. In 2018, they launched a global campaign, “Make Waves, Move Mountains.” The campaign “celebrates the empowerment of women in action sports and beyond and helps promote a message of strength and support to young women of any age, sport, or dream.”

Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant has publicly taken a stand against the pay disparity between the men’s and women’s teams in US Soccer. P & G, official sponsor of U.S. Soccer, took a full-page ad out in the NY Times in support of the U.S. women’s soccer team closing the gender pay gap. They announced they would give $529 ($23k x 23 players) to the USWNT players.

Tecnica is a popular footwear brand that is dedicated to encouraging more women to ski. The mission of their Women to Women (W2W) project is to design authentic women’s products for committed and passionate skiers, “regardless of ability, to new levels of confidence, excitement, and freedom.”

Last but far from least, VISA mandated that 50 percent of its official sponsorship go towards the women’s team in its new deal with the U.S. Soccer. The company also pledged to continue to give financial support to their athlete partners when the Olympics were postponed until 2021. This commitment will allow superstars like Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe to train at a high level for another year.

Brands are powerful and have millions of consumers and followers. They have the ability to influence allies and be an agent of change. We celebrate these brands for demanding and advocating gender equality in sport. Let’s hope many other brands follow suit.

Photo Credit: Google Reuse, Twitter



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