Under Armour to employees: no more hedonism on company dime

The American sports apparel giant told employees that it would no longer expense “adult entertainment, limousine services and gambling.”
By: | November 9, 2018


Sports apparel company Under Armour has been slammed following reports in the media of a hedonistic work culture, where employees and executives brought athletes to strip clubs on company dime.

Under Armour maintains impressive line of brand endorsement deals with top athletes such as Tom Brady and Dwayne Johnson.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the story, this longstanding company practice was put to bed by finance chief David Bergman, who sent out an e-mail in February 2018 noting that Under Armour would no longer expense for “adult entertainment, limousine services and gambling.”

It was alleged that Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Plank was one of the executives who would make such visits.

However, spokesperson told WSJ that Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Plank never charged visits to strip clubs on corporate dime, but did not confirm if other executives did so.


A culture of “alpha male dominance”

The WSJ also alleges misconduct by top management executives against female subordinates.

For instance, company managers reportedly invited young female employees “based on their attractiveness to appeal to male guests” over to an annual Preakness party at Plank’s Sagamore Farm – a practice apparently dubbed “stocking the pond”.  

Additionally, as Plank often surrounds himself with his male inner circle in top positions, many women in the company felt they were not fairly considered for promotions. 

While unverified, a common thread running through Glassdoor reviews shows employees accusing the company of being “misogynistic, sexist”, and that upper management overall promotes and rewards a culture of alpha male dominance.

A spokesperson told Vox that the company had “addressed these serious allegations of the past and will continue to address workplace behavior that violates our policies. Inappropriate behavior that challenges our values or violates our policies is unacceptable — and will not be tolerated. We are committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace.”

In an email sent to all employees, Plank and Frisk said that they “believe that there is systemic inequality in the global workplace and will embrace this opportunity to accelerate the ongoing meaningful cultural transformation that is already underway at Under Armour.”

“We can and will do better. You deserve to work in a respectful and empowering environment. Inappropriate behavior that challenges our values or violates our policies is unacceptable – and will not be tolerated. We believe that our diversity and collective decency will drive our future,” the email added.

Plank and Frisk also pointed to existing resources, such as its “Teammate Engagement Survey” and “confidential channels” for employees to call out any misconduct.

Headquartered in Baltimore with 310 stores globally, Under Armour boasts an annual US$4.9 billion (S$6.75b) in revenue, and employs more than 15,000 employees. Nearly half of these are women.