As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Title IX coming into fruition, the elevation of enforced gender equity in high school and collegiate sports was pivotal. Upon this law being brought to life, it changed the makeup of sport forever. It’s only fitting that Nike is excitedly celebrating this 50th anniversary milestone, as it aligns with their very own foundation that is rooted in serving and showing up for women for the past 50 years, and the many more to come. The Future 50 for Nike is rooted in the Future 50 for Her.
Being privileged enough to experience the culmination of Nike’s Future 50 For Her, we were able to observe how Nike creates value through their determined drive to serve athletes and the future of sport. Nike believes that if you have a body, you are an athlete, therefore, being inclusive of all. Doing so aids them to maintain the consumer at the core of all Nike does, and truly, that’s what keeps Nike ahead of the curve. To give many the reason to inspire and aspire to is what Nike at 50 means, as they have stood tall in the face of being a voice and not shying away from a challenge. Today, Nike is redefining sport for a new generation and with their consumers, athletes, collaborators and partners, they are moving people into action to create a better world through sport. Women are leading the force when it comes to changing the face of sport, and frankly, they are making it much better.
Being the world’s largest athletic brand that serves women, Nike’s relentless responsibility to help overcome the barriers that girls and women experience daily in the face of sport. That is why Nike is investing in women every step of the way, by bringing more women into the realm of sport. “In April, Nike unveiled the Serena Williams Building, the largest building in Nike’s World Headquarters (WHQ), inspired by Serena Williams. The building houses the company’s product creation and design teams, including the SWDC. In 2019, in partnership with Serena Williams, Nike created the Serena Williams Design Crew, an apprenticeship program designed to help build the next generation of design talent at Nike and beyond, leading with women and BIPOC creatives. Together, with Serena, Nike is fueling the pipeline of a more diverse future for design.”
Women are made to play. Nike is showcasing that very statement by breaking barriers for girls with recruiting and training more female coaches, creating digital tools to help coaches and empowered adults create safe and inclusive environments, donating apparel and equipment so girls can play with confidence, and striving for 50% girl participation in sport-based community programs we support.
Through Made to Play, Nike’s global commitment to get kids moving, they’re working with more than 124 community partners around the world to remove these barriers and expand girls’ access to the many benefits of physical activity. In FY21, Nike directly reached nearly 600,000 kids around the world – 55% of which were girls, which puts them on the path to achieving Nike’s 2025 target of 50% girl participation in all sport-based community sport programs funded by the Made to Play commitment. Additionally, Nike is recruiting and training more female coaches to give girls inspiring role models they can look up to. In FY21, Nike reached 24,000 coaches around the world and helped train morethan 6,200 of them in gender-inclusive coaching.
It doesn’t end there though. Nike is constantly creating digital tools to help coaches and empowered adults give girls the support they need to reach their potential in the game and in the world. The Made to Play Coaching Girls Guide is a free, open-source guide that was co-created by Nike and the Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport (formerly We Coach), with support from Youth Sport Trust in EMEA. The guide equips coaches and other caring adults with tools that can help make sport fun for girls now and in the future. Megan Bartlett, Founder of The Center for Healing & Justice Through Sport, shared that, “We all know being active is essential to being physically healthy, but we also need to recognize the ways in which we all can heal and promote positive mental health through sport. As we celebrate the game-changing impact Title IX has had on the past 50 years, we must make sport a healing-centered experience for all youth, equally, so they can continue to thrive in the next 50 years.”
Nike took it an essential step further with the The Hijab Product Playbook, that was developed in collaboration with hijabi coaches, academics, youth participants and athletes. The purpose of the playbook helps coaches and program leaders establish a safe, supportive environment for hijabi athletes, and it’s based on research and insights from subject matter experts and community members, including parents, coaches and program leaders from Muslim communities and hijab-wearing athletes and girls.
Nike is consistently donating apparel and equipment so girls can successfully, and confidently, participate in sport. Over the past two years, Nike has donated approximately 75,000 Nike Swoosh Sports Bras and 3,000 Nike Pro Hijabs through our community and business partners to girls around the world. This includes approximately 44,000 sports bras and 1,000 hijabs donated to organizations in North America in the last year. To live alongside these products, Nike has also created tools for caring adults to guide conversations, and fit cards for girls to help them determine the right feel and fit.
It’s apparent that no other company supports women’s sport at all levels like Nike does, and that is without question. Through Team USA, league and university sponsorships, Nike supports thousands of elite women athletes in North America and around the world. An athlete’s voice is powerful, but the voice of a collective is unstoppable. Nike continues to stay focused on deepening and fostering more meaningful partnerships with women athletes. Nike athletes are exploring all the resources Nike has to offer to accelerate change. Additionally, Nike established the Athlete Think Tank to hear directly from their elite women athletes and global catalysts – from different geographies, sport experiences and at varying junctures in their sport lives so they can contribute their own insights, opinions, feedback, and guidance to mold the future.
Nike has redefined sport for a new generation, while still allowing these past 50 years to speak volumes through their initiatives and actions alone. Redefining sport for Nike includes inviting everyone into the game – and inspiring through the emotion, passion, and joy of sport. As Nike continues to intersect and combine both sport and culture, it expands as well as redefines both, for each generation. Like Becca Kerr, Nike VP/GM for North America Women’s, stated “Nike has been at the forefront of championing women’s sport and athletes over the last 50 years, but there is no finish line. We continue to foster equity, access and inspiration for the next generation of athletes.” That rings true very prevalently today.
The best aspect of what Nike has accomplished in the past 50 years doesn’t even hold a light of what more is to come, for them to show and prove, that women will always be at the forefront of what it means to be a Nike athlete. Title IX transcends equity in sport, but further represents the value of being. We were beyond honored to have been in attendance for Future 50 For Her to celebrate women in sport. The same intention applies to today’s Nike’s Her Rise event that awaits, to commemorate the 50th Title IX Anniversary, of where Nike has never lost sight of what matters most – elevating the athlete, investing into our communities, while constantly reminding us of our power, through strength in sisterhood.