Adidas chief financial officer Robin Stalker announced Thursday that the athletic footwear and apparel company has pledged not to fire any endorser who comes out as gay, bisexual or transgender.
As reported by Buzzfeed, the company will insert a clause into its endorsement contracts that reads:
Adidas acknowledges and adheres to the principles of diversity, as this is a central part of the Adidas group philosophy. Therefore Adidas warrants that this agreement will neither be terminated nor modified in case the athlete comes out to the public as a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.
Most countries in Europe have laws in place protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, but the practice isn’t as prevalent in the United States: Only 22 American states have similar laws on the books. What Adidas is doing is telling its endorsers that the company will stand by them no matter where they are located.
Today’s LGBT athletes live in a much more accepting world than athletes who came out as gay years ago. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, for instance, said her endorsements “disappeared overnight” when she was identified as gay in a 1981 lawsuit filed by a former girlfriend. She said she lost $10 million in endorsements. But now companies are actively courting LGBT athletes. U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach has numerous endorsement deals and was in a Super Bowl commercial for Mini. Former football player Michael Sam signed an endorsement deal with Visa after coming out. Brittney Griner of the WNBA became the first openly gay athlete to endorse Nike, and the company released its #BeTrue collection — one geared toward LGBT customers — in 2013.
Adidas, for its part, signed gay Olympic diver Tom Daley to be the face of its NEO label in 2014.