Nike Changes Policy To Ensure Pregnant Athletes Won't Be Penalized
Nike has responded to "criticism about its treatment of its sponsored athletes who become pregnant" by committing to "ensuring that such athletes are not financially penalized," according to Kevin Draper of the N.Y. TIMES. On Friday, Nike said that it would "waive performance-pay reductions for 12 months for athletes 'who decide to have a baby,' promising to add terms that reinforce this policy into the company's contracts with sponsored athletes." Current and former Nike athletes such as Alysia Montano and Allyson Felix "recalled tough decisions they had to make when considering whether to have children and described financial penalties that Nike athletes faced if they became pregnant." Most endorsement deals for runners "have specific performance thresholds for compensation," and if they are "not met, for any reason, sponsors may reduce an athlete's pay." There typically are "not exceptions for maternity leave." In a memo sent to all company employees Friday, Nike VP and GM/Global Properties Amy Montagne "referred to Montano and Felix and wrote that she was 'saddened' to hear of Felix's experience with the company" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/25).
STRONG SUPPORT: Serena Williams, a Nike athlete and a mother herself, said the company wants to "support women that want to have families and that want to be moms." Williams said, "I'm glad that statement was made. ... That's what it's about. It's about learning from mistakes and doing better" (AP, 5/27).