Nike said Friday it was adding language to future contracts that would protect female athletes’ pay during pregnancy. The change comes after the brand received backlash last week for freezing compensation for some pregnant women under endorsement deals.
Nike said in a statement, “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. Moving forward, our contracts for female athletes will include written terms that reinforce our policy.
“Our mission has always been to support athletes as they strive to be their best. We want to make it clear today that we support women as they decide how to be both great mothers and great athletes. We recognize we can do more and that there is an important opportunity for the sports industry to evolve to support female athletes.”
The changes come after track star Alysia Montano charged in an op-ed video published May 12 in The New York Times how Nike paused her sponsorship when she informed the company of her pregnancy. Montano drew wide coverage back in 2014 when she competed in the US Track and Field Championships in Sacramento while eight months pregnant.
Several other athletes, including Phoebe Write and Kara Goucher, told The Times that their Nike sponsorship did not guarantee their salaries during pregnancy or after childbirth.