BUILDING FUTURE LEADERS THROUGH A COMMITMENT TO GIRLS SPORTS
Under Armour pledges continued support for girls sports and future women leaders for Women's History Month and International Women's Day
Challenging the status quo has been a recurring theme in women's sports for decades. UA athletes like Kelley O’Hara, Lindsey Vonn and Natasha Hastings have all led the charge for progress in sports. Women in every league have pushed for resources, attention, screen time, money, and led the way in protesting gender inequality, social injustice, and racism.
Studies have shown that participation in sport has a lifelong impact on the development of girls. Athletics have been proven to be outstanding markers and builders of successful women. Level aside, the theme is clear: participation in sports has an impact on career trajectory — 96% of women in C-suite level positions played sports beyond elementary school. Many senior leaders at Under Armour also belong to this group, having played sports themselves as girls.
So when the pandemic struck in 2020, it was the resilience that women have cultivated that was so crucial in combating new struggles in their day-to-day lives as mothers and professionals, from the fresh concerns that women have shouldered, to the emotional, mental, and financial burdens left in its wake.
"These stressors affect how we spend our day and our psyche. Women are not only experiencing, 'I'm tired,' but 'I'm tired and I don't know if I'm successful at anything,'" added Pugliese.
The pandemic has shone a light on, and exacerbated a pre-existing issue: the discrepancy between boys’ and girls’ participation in sports. Even before the pandemic, girls had 1.13 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys. And with sports programs paused across the country, the opportunities for girls to find places to play have become even more difficult.
It's a reality that needs to be addressed. With the intent to celebrate and uphold the power of sport, Under Armour is launching the Women’s History Month Collection.
The collection will support Good Sports' "She Who Plays" initiative —a commitment to funding $1 million in brand-new sports and fitness equipment to directly impact girls in athletics — as well as the Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program that seeks to empower adolescent girls around the world through education.
The former is part of a seven-year partnership with Under Armour, where over 184,934 pieces of equipment, apparel and footwear have been distributed to impact programs serving 1,460,569 children across all 50 states since 2014.
Under Armour is also looking at the lives of women leaders and athletes within its own walls.
"We will continue to elevate, create opportunities and open doors for women to be able to grow into higher levels of our company. It's not just a 'good goal', but a tangible KPI," Pugliese added.
For Under Armour, creating these opportunities manifests in a few ways. First, they have committed to improving gender representation across all levels of the organization, with 50% of global teammates being women, and ensuring these teammates receive fair and equitable pay without regard for their race, gender or any other protected characteristic. Reviews are conducted by a third party on an annual basis to ensure that pay decisions are made in a fair and equitable manner.
Through their W.I.L.L. (Women Inspiring Leading and Living) Teammate Resource Group and other external partners they provide programming that supports the professional development, retention and advancement of women teammates. This includes a partnership with WISE (Women in Sports and Events) focused on advancing women into Vice President and above positions, and their first ever Women’s Development Forum hosted by the Brand Leadership Institute targeting mid-level leaders. Additionally, they have made investments in leadership development to ensure their leaders are skilled at building inclusive environments that foster retention and advancement of women at all levels of the organization.
Sports will play a role in the emotional and physical recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. But there’s more work to do to ensure equitable access to all sports has to offer.