Burton Shows Up Nike with Increased Support for Pregnant Athletes
Take that, Nike.
Burton announced Thursday it is changing its contracts for female athletes days after the New York Times published a first-person account by United States national champion runner Alysia Montaño that called out Nike for how it reduced pay in the past for female athletes who stopped competing while pregnant and immediately after giving birth.
In response, Burton is making changes to how it treats its athletes who become pregnant, a process that started a year ago with Burton Snowboarder Kimmy Fasani. Fasani decided to continue her professional snowboarding career while becoming a mom, and Burton continued sponsoring her.
Thursday, Burton posted this statement on its website:
“Women’s empowerment isn’t just ‘you go girl’ and exciting marketing campaigns. It means supporting athletes when it really counts, with our words and our actions.
“Alysia Montaño’s recent piece in the New York Times, titled “Nike Told Me To Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby,’ is the unfortunate status quo for women who become professional athletes, with sponsors often forcing hard decisions for mothers. Do what’s best for your career, or do what’s best for you or your family?
“We believe no one should be forced to choose between a career and a family. We support women who spend their lives pushing boundaries and we gladly stand by them.
“Starting with Burton Team athlete Kimmy Fasani, who paved the way over a year ago by deciding to continue her professional snowboarding career while becoming a mom to her son, Koa, we’ve been exploring ways we can double down on our commitment to our athletes who may want to make the same choice one day.
“To make sure our sponsored athletes never have to go through what runner Alysia and others endured, we’re changing all female athlete contracts worldwide effective immediately to include language that supports and protects women during and after pregnancy. This means:
- Pregnancy will not be considered a medical condition.
- Burton will not reduce or suspend compensation for pregnancy/maternity reasons for twenty-four weeks (= six months).
- Burton will work with its pregnant athlete(s) to identify reasonable accommodations to the athlete’s contractual obligations.
- Burton will not terminate a contract for pregnancy/maternity reasons.
- Burton will reimburse for a companion air ticket for any appearance required of the athlete during the time she is breastfeeding her child.
“As Sarah Crockett, our Chief Marketing Officer, said in our announcement to our athletes:
” ‘We respect you as whole people, and value your contributions to the sport of snowboarding, but also so much more than that. This is a partnership that has many dimensions, and ensuring that this doesn’t lapse in times when you are growing your family is incredibly important to us, and we know it’s important to you as well.’ ”
“We’re grateful to Kimmy and all the other female athletes out there who are brave enough to continue to break boundaries, both in and outside their sports.”
After the NY Times was published, Nike released this statement:
“Nike is proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes. As is common practice in our industry, our agreements do include performance-based payment reductions. Historically, a few female athletes had performance-based reductions applied. We recognized that there was inconsistency in our approach across different sports and in 2018 we standardized our approach across all sports so that no female athlete is penalized financially for pregnancy.”