Under Armour Culture Back In Spotlight With Strip Club Report
Under Armour employees received an email earlier this year stating that they "could no longer charge visits to strip clubs on their corporate cards" after UA execs and employees, including Founder, Chair & CEO KEVIN PLANK, over the years "went with athletes or co-workers to strip clubs after some corporate and sporting events," according to sources cited by Khadeeja Safdar of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. UA "often paid for the visits of many attendees." The strip-club visits were "symptomatic of practices" women at UA "found demeaning." Sources said that some top male execs "violated company policy by behaving inappropriately with female subordinates." UA Senior VP/Corporate Communications KELLEY MCCORMICK said that the company "doesn’t condone use of adult entertainment for business," and that Plank "didn’t conduct business at strip clubs or use company funds at such venues." Sources also noted that former Exec VP/Business Development SCOTT PLANK, Kevin's brother, left in '12 "amid allegations of sexual misconduct." At the time, UA said that he retired to "focus on a real-estate venture and philanthropy." A source said that UA co-Founder KIP FULKS also had a "romantic relationship with a subordinate, a violation of company policy." After informing HR, Fulks "stepped down" and was named a strategic adviser. In October '17, Fulks "left the company to go on a sabbatical." Former employees said that one annual event in particular "illustrated some of the problems" at UA. Kevin Plank for "several years hosted a party for executives, athletes and VIP guests at his horse farm in Maryland on the eve of the Preakness." Sources said that company event managers "invited young female staffers based on attractiveness to appeal to male guests" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/6).
PLAYING CATCH-UP: CNBC's Brian Sullivan said the report is a "story that you think is straight from 1991, back in the day when people smoked in their office" ("Worldwide Exchange," CNBC, 11/6). CNBC's Becky Quick: "What's probably surprising is not the news that this was happening, but just that a letter went out this year." CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said UA is "about 10 years too late, maybe 20 years too late" ("Squawk Box" CNBC, 11/6). In Baltimore, Doug Donovan noted in the past, "complaints about a 'male culture' at Under Armour were frequently posted on the jobs site Glassdoor, where the company generally gets positive reviews as a workplace." Three former UA employees said that the "scarcity of women in the upper echelon was noticeable." One woman "expressed a sense of women being unable to crack into the company’s inner sanctum" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 11/5).