Make meaningful investments
There’s no getting around the fact that businesses need to be ready to invest. The gap in visibility between men’s and women’s sports is a financial one. Breaking the cycle is going to mean shifting where we put our money. The good news is that it’s not as big of a marketing risk as some might think. We already know that investing in women’s sports can pay off.
One major brand that sponsored the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team in 2019 saw fan engagement and affinity jump more than 2,000%. And since Nike became the official sponsor of the WNBA in 2018, it’s reported that fans of the league are 3.4 times more loyal than sports fans in general. There is and always has been a market for women’s sports, now is the time to invest in more meaningful ways.
Be candid and committed
As in all things, honesty will be the best policy as we push for gender equity in professional sports. There are difficult discussions ahead, and transparency and candor will be essential. Get to know the landscape, understand the players (both on and off the field) and be ready to go to bat for the issues holding them back.
It’s way past time for women around the world to see themselves in professional sports. If we see it, we can be it. Stay on guard even as the cause célèbre nature of the Title IX anniversary begins to fade. It will be tempting and easy to fall back into old habits. Be ready to call it out when it happens.
A better future for women is a better future for everyone
This isn’t a discussion about men vs. women. This is a fight that needs men and women working together. The benefits of parity are clear. Whether it’s the boardroom, the classroom or the field of play, when young girls see people like them in these spaces, they learn early on they belong there too.
That correlation and impact are clearly seen among women executives, 94% of whom have a background in sports: More than half of them competed at the collegiate level. Playing with and leading a team, training, coming from behind, learning from losses—these are all life lessons that go well beyond athletics and help men and women alike achieve their full potential. That’s the payoff … that’s the goal worth fighting for.
But make no mistake, we aren’t talking about charity work here. By pulling women's sports up to parity with men's, brands generate more fan experiences and better opportunities to connect with people when they are most engaged and open.
We need all hands on deck—the teams, brands, media, men and women. It’s going to take a team effort. By lifting everyone up to the same level, everyone wins: the leagues, the players, the fans and those helping to effect change. History is being written every day. We have an opportunity to change it for the better. Will you join us?