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NWSL’s Challenge Cup Achieves Pay Equity With Historic UKG Deal

NWSL’s Challenge Cup Achieves Pay Equity With Historic UKG Deal

On Friday, UKG announced a multimillion-dollar three-year sponsorship of the NWSL Challenge Cup. This makes the 2023 Challenge Cup the first professional women’s soccer tournament to achieve pay equity.

With the sponsorship change, the player Cup bonus pool will increase tenhold in 2022 and then double in 2023 to be around $1 million, bringing it on par with the equivalent men’s tournament, per Sportico.

“We refuse to accept that one organization cannot make a difference in the fight for pay equity—just look at what these remarkable women have done with their collective voice to raise awareness on a national stage about a problem that has plagued our workforce for decades,” said Brian K. Reaves, chief belonging, diversity and equity officer at UKG, per the company’s press release. “These worthy athletes are also champions on the field of equality. We are so proud to stand beside the NWSL and work toward bringing pay equity to a sport that, for too long unfortunately, reflected the working reality of many women. This partnership is just one of the many actions UKG is taking to raise awareness and encourage action on pay equity across all workplaces and industries.”

Pay inequality in soccer is an issue the USWNT has been fighting for years. In February, the USWNT reached a settlement regarding the pay gap. U.S. Soccer responded by stating the men’s and women’s events would pay equally for future events.

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However, Friday’s news is a big step in the direction of achieving pay equality for the soccer teams across the country.

This sponsorship is part of UKG’s “Close the Gap Initiative” that was announced in Dec. 2021. Their goal is to close the gender pay gap, which is $0.18 on the dollar, for every employee paid by a UKG solution. The company pays around 15 million employees a year, meaning UKG is investing around $3 million towards this cause.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have a partner like UKG, a brand with whom we have shared values,” NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said. “Our partnership is purpose-driven, and we believe that will eventually lead to broader impactful change, not only for women in professional sports but for women and underrepresented groups worldwide who have advocated tirelessly for the equity they deserve.”

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