After the publicity surrounding the U.S. women’s soccer team in the World Cup and their fight for equal pay, several companies are working to make a difference.
Most recently, Wasserman, a sports and talent agency that represents more than half of the U.S. women’s national team, is creating the Collective. This particular branch of Wasserman will deal with major companies and fans of every gender with the country’s best-known women athletes.
Megan Rapinoe, the team captain for the U.S. women’s team, agrees that women have come a long way, making way for the Collective in popular society. “I am fortunate to play soccer in a time where the women who came before me made such an impact on the sport.” Because of the hard work of these women, Rapinoe said, she’s “seen more acceptance, more acknowledgment and support, which has certainly led to more opportunity.”
Certain companies are already realizing how much women are a priority in the sports industry. Adidas announced before the Women’s World Cup that the women they sponsored would receive the same performance bonus as the men in a bid to inspire and endorse the next generation of female athletes and leaders. In April, LUNA nutrition bars also pledged they would pay $31,250 to each woman that makes up the U.S. women’s soccer team. The money is equivalent to the difference in what the U.S. Soccer Federation pays the men’s and women’s teams in bonus money. Most recently, Secret deodorant has pledged to donate $529,000 to the U.S. women’s soccer team while they fight to end their lawsuit citing gender discrimination and pay disparity.
Even with the rising awareness of female athletes and their struggles, there’s still a long way to go. As Rapinoe said, “We are still not nearly where we need to be.” Even with the money donated by major brands and sponsors, more must be done to make sure women are included equally in the future of sports.
Wasserman is hoping to remedy that, recruiting representatives in soccer, basketball, swimming, and hockey. Women are quickly controlling most of the money in the sports industry, American women regularly win more medals than the men, and these women athletes are more recognized than the men, making this a strong business move.
The Collective is projected to be a small part of the Wasserman company to begin with, but as women athletes grow in star status and talent, the need for a company like this will grow. It is hoped that within the next five years, more companies that prioritize women will pop up out of the framework and compete with the Collective. In fact, associates of Wasserman welcome the competition. Elizabeth Lindsey, the president of brands and properties at Wasserman, is hopeful for the future of their company’s newest addition. “I hope more people pay attention to this,” she said. “I hope people realize what a valuable demographic this audience is.”