US sportswear giant Nike is making major changes to its maternity policy for sponsored athletes following strong protests from high-profile stars who complained about the company’s previous rules.
On Monday, Nike announced that the policy adjustment will be effective immediately and will now ensure that female athletes won’t be “adversely impacted financially for pregnancy” for 18 months, being six months more than under the company’s previous policy.
The sportswear giant is taking this step after decorated American women runners including Phoebe Wright, Alysia Montaño, Allyson Felix and Kara Goucher strongly criticized Nike’s maternity policies.
Back in May, Montaño claimed in a video of the New York Times’s opinion section that a Nike spokesperson once told her that the company would pause her contract and stop paying her if she wanted to have a baby.
Montaño, an Olympian athlete who once competed while being eight months pregnant criticized Nike in the video for penalizing its own athletes for deciding to have children.
"Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. Like maybe your contract, your pay. Even if you have to watch [Nike] roll out an ad campaign praising women like you and preaching the importance of taking a stand," Montaño said in the video, quoting one of Nike’s recent marketing campaigns.
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