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Under Armour Bans Strip Club Expenses in #MeToo Reckoning

The company promises culture reform among criticism of demeaning and inappropriate workplace practices.
Under Armour sneakers | Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Bloomberg

BALTIMORE, United States — Under Armour Inc has barred employees from expensing strip club visits on their corporate cards as part of an attempt by the athletic brand to adjust to the #MeToo era.

The policy change was announced in an email to employees in February, according to the Wall Street Journal, which said that women who worked at the company found the practice demeaning.

In a statement to Bloomberg News, Under Armour said it had addressed “these serious allegations of the past,” without getting specific.

“Inappropriate behaviour that challenges our values or violates our policies is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the Baltimore-based company said. “We are committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace.”

Like businesses across the US, Under Armour is rethinking its policies after the #MeToo movement put a spotlight on sexual harassment last year. But the sports brand, founded in 1996 by chief executive Kevin Plank to sell football gear, has a particular reputation for testosterone. Some women have said they don't feel like they have a fair shot at being promoted within the company, the Journal said in its report.

“Our teammates deserve to work in a respectful and empowering environment,” the newspaper quoted Plank, 46, as saying. “We believe that there is systemic inequality in the global workplace and we will embrace this moment to accelerate the ongoing meaningful cultural transformation that is already under way at Under Armour. We can and will do better.”

The sports brand has a particular reputation for testosterone.

Some top male executives have behaved inappropriately with female subordinates, unidentified people told the Journal. In one practice, women were invited to events based on their attractiveness to male guests — a process known as “stocking the pond”, describes the newspaper.

Executives and employees, including Plank himself, went with athletes and colleagues to strip clubs after some corporate events, the Journal reported.

Nike Inc, the world's biggest sports brand, has also struggled with workplace misconduct. Top executives, including one of the favourites to succeed chief executive Mark Parker, were pushed out earlier this year after Nike learned of inappropriate behaviour at the company.

Nike set out to review how it deals with complaints and trains managers. It also increased funding for internal diversity networks and expanded anti-bias education.

“I’m committed to ensure that we have an environment where every Nike employee can have a positive experience and reach their full potential,” Parker said during a conference call in March.

By Zoya Khan, Nick Turner and Eben Novy-Williams; editors: Nick Turner and Rob Golum.

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