Winning the Women's World Cup didn't just mean the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) would earn yet another gold star on their shirts: It also ensured that their ongoing fight for equal pay would become global news.
In March, 28 members of the USWNT sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination, arguing that the U.S. Men’s National Team earn significantly more than them on average. While this isn't the only discrepancy between the teams — others include training and playing conditions, coaching, travel arrangements, and medical treatment — it's the conversation about the existing pay gap that has everyone rallying behind the players, including Secret Deodorant.
In a full-page ad printed in Sunday's New York Times, Secret, a sponsor for the women's soccer team, announced that it would contribute over half a million dollars — $529,000 to be exact — to the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association. Sound oddly specific? That price tag is equivalent to $23,000 for each of the 23 players on the team's current roster.
"As a partner, we know the U.S. Soccer Federation is an organization of considerable strength. It has the strength to be on the right side of history," Secret says in the ad. "Inequality is about more than pay and players; it’s about values. Let’s take this moment of celebration to propel women’s sports forward. We urge the U.S. Soccer Federation to be a beacon of strength and end gender pay inequality once and for all, for all players."
Secret is the first USWNT sponsor to publicly support the team's fight for equal pay for work, although others, including Nike and Budweiser, tell CNN that they are also advocates for the cause. On July 7, just after the USWNT clinched the win, Nike released a 60-second ad celebrating the achievement of the team on and off the field, including one memorable message: “We will keep fighting not just to make history, but to change it forever."
This isn't the first time Secret used its platform to address the gender wage gap: In 2018, the brand partnered with Ladies Get Paid to produce a video campaign highlighting the importance of equal pay. Secret also ran several ads in 2017 as a part of its “Stress Test” campaign that featured women preparing for workplace sexism.
The lawsuit issued by the women's soccer team isn't just inspiring beauty brands to speak up, but also igniting massive change on a national level. Last week, two female Democratic senators — Dianne Feinstein of California and Patty Murray of Washington — introduced a bill calling for equal pay for female athletes playing for the country's national teams. According to CNN, the bill would add "wages and other compensation" to the existing U.S. code requirements, as well as require U.S. sports federations to submit reports to Congress every year showing compensation data by race and gender. Still, this is only the beginning.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Soccer Federation tentatively agreed last month to mediation, which is expected to begin now that the World Cup is over. As of right now, we can't say how (or when) this lawsuit will be settled, but we do know Secret has one thing right: "Women just made history. But they have always deserved equal pay."