The Wall Street Journal has just published a new report on the state of affairs within Under Armour as the sports-apparel company goes through the process of “grappling with concerns about the treatment of women in the workplace.”
Otherwise known as the #MeToo movement, WSJ exposes the male-dominated culture at the Under Armour Global Headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, that allowed Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Plank, along with other executives to use company credit cards at strip clubs and host wild parties at his farm, all on the shareholder’s dime as the stock crashed.
According to WSJ sources, executives and employees, including Plank, went with athletes or co-workers to Baltimore’s best strip clubs after corporate and sporting events, and the company often footed the bill.
“Strip-club visits were symptomatic of practices women at Under Armour found demeaning,” according to the WSJ report of more than 12 current and former employees and executives.
Some of these sources said top male executives violated company policy by misbehaving with strippers. They even said women were invited to annual company events based on attractiveness.
In response to inquiries about the company’s out of control, male-dominated culture, Plank said in a statement:
“Our teammates 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 underway at Under Armour. We can and will do better.”
Kelley McCormick, senior vice president of corporate communications at Under Armour, said the company did not approve the use of adult entertainment for business and denied that Plank conducts business at strip clubs.
Current and former executives said many top spots in the company were filled with friends of Plank, and most women did not get a fair chance at climbing the corporate ladder.
“The industry has a problem, but Under Armour is truly culturally anemic,” said Drew Greer, a former Under Armour vice president who said he previously worked at Nike for more than a decade. He was one of the few black men in a senior role at Under Armour in 2015, where he worked for six months.
WSJ notes that Plank’s brother Scott, one of the company’s first employees, quietly left in 2012 amid allegations of sexual misconduct, according to WSJ sources.
Kip Fulks, Under Armour’s co-founder and a longtime executive, violated the company policy when he had a romantic relationship with a subordinate. Fulks stepped down from his role as chief product officer and was named a strategic adviser in May 2017.
SEC filings did not give a reason for the change. In October 2017, Fulks left the company to go on leave.
“We have addressed these serious allegations of the past and will continue to address workplace behavior that violates our policies,” McCormick said. Fulks and Scott Plank “no longer work here, and we have no further comment,” she added.
Former employees said Plank hosted wild parties for “executives, athletes, and VIP guests” at his Sagamore Farm, located at 3366 Belmont Ave, Reisterstown, Maryland. Managers invited young female employees based on attractiveness, according to WSJ sources — a practice the event managers called “stocking the pond.”
Plank did not hold the event this year. “This characterization misrepresents the tasteful nature of the annual Preakness party, which included teammates and significant others, partners, athletes and public officials,” McCormick said.
WSJ notes that Under Armour sent an email to its employees earlier this year, informing them that the “longstanding” company practice of expensing work visits to the strip club would no longer be allowed.
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