UKG, National Women’s Soccer League Announce Historic Multi-Year Partnership to Help Close Gender Pay Gap

First-ever women’s soccer tournament to achieve pay equity with men’s tournament
May 6, 2022 , LOWELL, Mass., and WESTON, Fla.

UKG, a leading provider of HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people, and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) today announced a historic, multi-year partnership, making UKG the first-ever title sponsor of the NWSL Challenge Cup, increasing the Cup bonus pool tenfold in 2022, and the total pool will more than double again in 2023. The 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup will be the first-ever women’s professional soccer tournament to achieve pay equity with its U.S. peers in the men’s game.

“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. “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.”

The multimillion-dollar, multi-year UKG sponsorship will close the wage gap for the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup, with the prize money directly benefiting the women on the winning team, runner-up team, and semifinalist teams. This is in addition to the recently ratified collective bargaining agreement reached by the NWSL and the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association that includes a substantial investment from ownership that significantly increases compensation packages and benefits, enhances training and playing environments, and provides the standards essential to securing the NWSL’s position as the best women’s soccer league in the world.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have a partner like UKG, a brand with whom we have shared values,” said Jessica Berman, NWSL commissioner. “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.”

In addition to its sponsorship with the NWSL, UKG will also partner with individual NWSL athletes Christen Press and Sydney Leroux to further advocate for closing the pay gap in every field.

“I can’t say how much it means to us that UKG is taking a stand on behalf of pay equity for our players,” said Christen Press. “We have fought long and hard for pay equal to that of our male counterparts, and we need more people to take a stand on closing the pay gap and fighting for fair and consistent pay for everyone, regardless of gender, race, background, or profession.”

“Every player in this league has worked their whole life to play professional soccer and have the means to support themselves and their families,” added Sydney Leroux. “Pay equity goes beyond the average 18 cents less that women are paid for every dollar that a man is paid — it is about people wanting to live the same quality of life, have the same opportunities, and live the same dreams as others doing the same work.”

The NWSL Challenge Cup sponsorship is part of the UKG Close the Gap Initiative, a multimillion-dollar pay equity initiative announced in December 2021, to drive awareness and action to resolve pay disparities among men, women, and underrepresented groups that continue to significantly impact today’s workforce. As part of that commitment, UKG is contributing $0.18 — the current gender wage gap1 — for every single employee paid each year via a UKG payroll solution toward programs and organizations fighting for equal pay. UKG payroll solutions are used to pay over 15 million employees per year, meaning UKG is making a $3 million investment in the critical programs and initiatives that support the fight for pay equity, including:

  • Philanthropic support of nonprofits — including Grantmakers for Girls of Color, LeanIn.Org, Reboot Representation, and 9to5 — that are focused on bringing greater access to education, career, opportunity, and pay equity to women, women of color, and other underrepresented groups.
  • The Pay Equity in America Research Study, in conjunction with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, which will examine the existing pay gaps between men and women in the workforce, as well as the progress employers are making nationwide to create more equitable conditions among all genders.
  • Education and awareness programs to develop educational resources for best practices in HR, compensation planning, recruiting, and hiring that are known to support pay equity. UKG will make these resources publicly available to all.

“At the heart of being a great place to work is providing equal opportunity for all,” said Reaves. “To be truly supportive, employers must recognize a person’s value; compensate them equitably based on their skills, experience, and the work they perform, no matter their gender; and they must also create equal opportunities for advancement for all people in their organizations. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but we believe that, by partnering with the NWSL and calling attention to the persistent issue of pay inequity in this world, we are taking meaningful action to support the livelihoods and aspirations of women and underrepresented groups in the workplace, and to help end the decades-long fight for equity for all.” 

Supporting Resources

Elevate Sports Ventures negotiated the landmark agreement between UKG and the NWSL and will assist in managing strategy and activation for the cause-driven brand and league partnership.

About UKG

At UKG, our purpose is people. As strong believers in the power of culture and belonging as the secret to success, we champion great workplaces and build lifelong partnerships with our customers to show what’s possible when businesses invest in their people. Born from a historic merger that created one of the world’s leading HCM cloud companies, our Life-work Technology approach to HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people helps 70,000 organizations around the globe and across every industry anticipate and adapt to their employees’ needs beyond just work. To learn more, visit ukg.com.

About NWSL

The National Women’s Soccer League is the premier women’s professional soccer league in the world featuring national team players from around the globe. The clubs are Angel City FC, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City Current, NJ/NY Gotham FC, North Carolina Courage, OL Reign, Orlando Pride, Portland Thorns FC, Racing Louisville FC, San Diego Wave FC, and Washington Spirit.

Copyright 2022 UKG Inc. All rights reserved. For a full list of UKG trademarks, please visit ukg.com/trademarks. All other trademarks, if any, are property of their respective owners. All specifications are subject to change. 

Footnote 1: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). 2020 Annual Report: Highlights of Women's Earnings. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/cps/earnings.htm.

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