Nike is making a bigger, bolder investment in women. And it's using sports as one way to get to them.
The athletic apparel giant last week hosted the 2019 WNBA draft from a basketball court inside its New York headquarters, about two years into its deal to be the exclusive on-court uniform and clothing retailer for the league.
That same day, it hosted a panel where it brought into its office renowned female basketball players including Sheryl Swoopes, the first player to be signed in the WNBA when it was created in 1996; Sue Bird, an American Israeli player and Olympic gold medalist; and Kia Nurse, a 23-year-old who's already been drafted into the WNBA. They all sat alongside the head of Nike's women's division, Rosemary St. Clair, to talk about the importance of getting more women into sports.
"A lot of girls drop out [of sports]," St. Clair told the audience. "They're up against a lot of barriers. ... I'm concerned about the parents wanting [their children] to do something more girly."
She went on to discuss some of the investments Nike is making now to try to dispute the idea that sports isn't as much for women as for men. That includes an outreach program the retailer is introducing where it sends athletes as mentors to junior high and middle schools to talk to young girls about how to take their participation in sports to the next level. It's all about, "How do we help the next [generation] come up and learn the power of sport?" she said.