Under Armour hasn’t escaped the #MeToo movement unscathed.
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, employees at the South Baltimore athletic apparel giant were informed earlier this year that corporate wouldn’t continue paying for their trips to local strip clubs with company credit cards. And the same brief exposé, published today, alleges a deeper culture of sexism and misconduct in the company’s upper ranks.
The story reveals the company sent out an internal email on Feb. 20 notifying workers it would no longer be reimbursing their expenses on nude entertainment. Among the many strip clubs in Baltimore, the piece nods only to Scores downtown on the Fallsway, noting, “On some visits, employees charged hundreds of dollars there to the company, according to some of the people familiar with the matter.”
Kelley McCormick, UA’s senior vice president of corporate communications, characterized the practice of corporate subsidizing of strip club outings as a “legacy issue,” and one that is no longer tolerated.
McCormick told the paper that Plank never did any business or used any company funds at such venues, and that Under Armour doesn’t allow its employees to, either. Sources had told The Journal that executives, including Chairman and CEO Kevin Plank, would join employees and athletes on excursions to strip clubs after corporate and sporting events, and that the company would pay for it.
The report also takes the company to task over an alleged culture of demeaning and sexist behavior directed at women. It cites past issues at the C-level, like Kevin’s brother Scott Plank leaving Under Armour in 2012 amid allegations of sexual misconduct (completely separately, he was also accused of exposing himself to a woman at his condo building last year), and company co-founder Kip Fulks stepping down from his executive post last year after disclosing he’d had a romantic relationship with an associate.
Furthermore, it alleges Under Armour’s event managers were actively “stocking the pond” at Plank’s annual party at his Preakness eve party at his Baltimore County horse farm. Per former employees, that phrase meant inviting young, female employees based on their attractiveness to cater to male guests. They also said the event included go-go dancers.
Defending Plank, McCormick told The Wall Street Journal, “This characterization misrepresents the tasteful nature of the annual Preakness party, which included teammates and significant others, partners, athletes and public officials.”
Plank said in a statement to the paper that Under Armour employees “deserve to work in a respectful and empowering environment.
“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.”
This story has been updated.
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