Under Armour CEO hopes to clear the air with new pro-diversity statement
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has more to say about Donald Trump. The founder and Chairman of the sportswear manufacturing company issued a statement to the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday to clarify his words about the current President of the United States.
“In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent,” said Plank. “I want to clarify to our hometown exactly the values for which Under Armour and I stand.”
Plank explained that Under Armour stands for “entrepreneurship, job creation and opportunity”, and the company represents the city of Baltimore and its values. The statement includes a public stance against the travel ban and plans to join “a coalition of companies in opposition to any new actions that negatively impact our team, their families or our community. Plank stresses that diversity is Under Armour’s strength, and that the company will “continue to stand for equality, diversity and opportunity for all.”
Specific sentences were in bold in the statement, including “Under Armour stands for opportunity,” and bullet points, “We stand firmly for equal rights” and “We believe that immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America like Under Armour” among others.
The public was taken aback by Plank’s pro-Trump comments on CNBC in February. The CEO praised Trump’s “pro-business” agenda and said that having a pro-business president is “a real asset for the country.”
Many were outraged by Plank’s comments; assuming that he also stood for Trump’s anti-immigration stance, travel ban and plans to defund Planned Parenthood among others.
“He wants to build things,” said Plank on CNBC. “He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of ‘publish and interate’ versus ‘think, think, think, think, think.’ So there’s a lot of respect there.”
Under Armour came under fire following the comments, much like New Balance after showing support for Trump, and L.L. Bean after the public discovered that founder Linda Bean raised funds for Trump’s political action committee.
The Baltimore-based company issued a statement in early February, saying “We engage in policy, not politics," and that the company has “engaged with both the prior and the current administrations in advocating on business issues that we believe are in the best interests of our consumers, teammates, and shareholders."
Following Plank’s comments and the initial company statement, Under Armour athletes Stephen Curry, Misty Copeland and actor Dwayne Johnson openly opposed the CEO’s comments through interviews or social media posts. Curry flipped Plank’s ‘asset’ quote in an interview with The San Jose Mercury News saying, "I agree with that description (of asset made by Plank), if you remove the 'et.'"
Johnson and Copeland both took to social media to issue statements against Plank’s pro-Trump comments, with Copeland releasing her statement on the same day of the launch of her Inspired By Misty Copeland collection with Under Armour.
The new statement from Plank should clear the air and not hinder the brand’s growth, which has slowed down in recent quarters. The company posted an average of 20% quarterly revenue growth over six years, but Reuters reported that the company’s 15% revenue growth rate could be the new norm for the company.
Plank closed his statement saying, “We are always mindful of the responsibility that we have to those who choose our Brand, especially the young people who represent the bold and bright future of a diverse and inclusive America. While we will continue to engage with government to protect our teammates, our company and our city, I can promise you that we will never compromise these values.”
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