The New York Times recently posted an op-ed highlighting the imbalance of the Nike corporate office as it’s revealed by more than a dozen track athletes and agents that the company doesn’t guarantee a salary during maternity leave and early pregnancy.
According to the article, Phoebe Wright, a runner sponsored by Nike from 2010 through 2016, said, “getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete. There’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”
American middle distance runner and champion Alysia Montaño/GoTrackTownUSA
Issues arose in the past as Nike ultimately was making women choose between their children and bodies and their salaries. Then, in 2018, the company reportedly said they changed their contracts so athletes wouldn’t be penalized.
However, a leaked 2019 track and field contract stated that Nike has the power to reduce an athlete’s pay “for any reason.”
The company is known for publicly elevating their female athletes and prioritizing women empowerment. In February, the company released a commercial that highlights the entirety of female athletes’ careers. After this, however, many are pointing out the advertisements are just for show, seeing the amount of inequality that still occurs on the corporate level.
When companies put on such a good show, it can be easy to overlook any minute details that ultimately end up costing employees way more, and not just financially.
“It’s frustrating that as a woman I have to make the choice between my career and my body,” Ena Belch, a former University of Maryland field hockey player, said.
Nike issued a statement, pictured below, after receiving a high volume of backlash as a result of the op-ed.