After facing backlash earlier this year, Nike is taking new steps to support its female athletes.
In an Instagram post from Olympian and former Nike athlete Allyson Felix today, the track and field runner shared an internal Nike email confirming the brand would would be extending its maternal protection from 12 months to 18 months—effective immediately. This means that pregnant athletes will not have their pay or bonuses cut during the duration of the eight months prior to their due date as well as ten months after.
This is encouraging news for female Nike athletes, as the company has faced heavy criticism in recent months for the way it treated its pregnant sportswomen. Much of that backlash came from Felix, who penned a New York Times op-ed in May voicing her frustration with the lack of equality she faced under the old policy following giving birth in November.
“Our voices have power. Nike has joined in officially and contractually providing maternal protection to the female athletes they sponsor. This means that female athletes will no longer be financially penalized for having a child.” Felix wrote in the Instagram caption.
"Female athletes and their representatives will begin receiving written confirmation reaffirming Nike’s official pregnancy policy for elite athletes," a Nike spokesperson told Sole Collector. "In addition to our 2018 policy standardizing our approach across all sports to ensure no female athlete is adversely impacted financially for pregnancy, the policy has now been expanded to cover 18 months."