Throughout history, sports have always been a cultural marker. From the ancient world to today’s arenas, sport has the power to unify teams and communities, making it the perfect platform to promote equality on a large scale.
But it’s hard to be what you can’t see, so it's important to incorporate viewpoints that represent the world as it really is. Representation matters, and the messages we share have the power to shape public perception, not just of the UA brand, but of the world around us. Under Armour takes that responsibility seriously, and we believe sport can be a vehicle to start those conversations.
When it comes to celebrating Pride Month, Under Armour is committed to making sure our LGBTQ teammates are seen and heard.
Under Armour has always been about equipping athletes with what they need to succeed. That's why UA created Culture Clubs, groups of employees that represent likeminded people within the company. The goal of these groups is to emphasize the inclusiveness of our current mission, "Under Armour Makes You Better." These clubs give teammates a safe, empowering space to connect, create lasting connections and act as a catalyst for change across the organization.
In 2016, a group of employees marched in Baltimore Pride, and the Unified Culture Club was formed from there with the goal to establish Under Armour as an unquestionably safe, friendly and empowering workplace for people who identify as members of the LGBTQ community. Their idea to create shirts for club members to wear during Pride that year eventually grew into a full consumer-facing product line.
“I was one of the original Unified members, when it formally formed back in 2016. The goal was to create an internal voice for the LGBTQ community to make UA a more inclusive space and to put more of an effort into reaching LGBTQ consumers. That has now blossomed into actual Pride collections, which is incredibly rewarding to see," said Perry Williams, Manager of Strategic Execution and Co-Chair of Unified.
When it came time to create this year's Pride collection, Unified was included from the beginning to steer the direction of the 2019 UA Pride product line. “This isn’t about commercializing a moment — it’s about creating something real and authentic that will make a real impact on the community,” said SportStyle design director Katie Lau.
The collaboration began with a conversation about their personal connection to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which stemmed from a police raid of the popular NYC gay bar The Stonewall Inn.
Unified members talked about what it would have been like to be a member of the LGBTQ community at that time, and a patron at the bar that night. They talked about what those events continue to mean for the community today.
Then, the design team got to work, drafting a few executions of what would ultimately become the HOVR SLK EVO x Pride colorway, working with Unified along the way to tweak the design.
"These stories might not be specific to me, or any of us individually. But creating a product that gives people the ability to express themselves and feel included — that really motivates everyone on the team, “ said Lau. ”Having the opportunity to work on this, I have goosebumps on my arm just thinking about it. There is a different energy and passion that comes through products like this."
It’s one thing to say you’re for equality and it’s another thing to take action. Here at Under Armour, we’re committed to living by our value to “Stand for Equality” and support the ongoing fight for LGBTQ justice and equality.
"Unified celebrates Pride year-round and does so much more beyond the month of June. We spearhead community events throughout the year, including a career fair, a clothing drive with the Pride Center of Maryland, and the Hill Country Ride for Aids in Texas, to name a few," said Williams. "There is so much passion internally to celebrate employees of all walks of life and make sure that shines through in all we do as a brand. Last year, because of our diversity and inclusion efforts, we earned a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which is the national benchmarking tool for corporate policies and processes related to LGBTQ employees."
Under Armour is sponsoring Pride parades in Baltimore, Austin and New York City, and participating in San Francisco Pride. Additionally, UA will continue the partnership that started last year with the first UA Pride collection, providing financial and strategic support to Athlete Ally, a nonprofit aimed at educating and activating athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports.