On the heels of its World Cup victory, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is joining forces with Time’s Up to fight workplace pay inequity for women.
Over the course of 18 months, the two organizations are looking to begin a fundraising campaign to support three primary goals: creating cultural moments to move public opinion, coaching companies to pay and treat their employees equally, and advocating for federal and state policies that are against discrimination, according to Time’s Up’s chief policy and strategy officer Jen Klein.
Conversations surrounding forming a partnership first began around April, after a few Time’s Up members — including Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria — wore jerseys at a USWNT game in solidarity with the team’s ongoing gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Around that time, according to Klein, members of the national team’s Players’ Association approached Time’s Up to inquire about partnering around the fight for pay equity across several different industries — not just in sports and entertainment.
“Particularly once they won the World Cup, [the players] wanted to make this fight for equal pay not only about them, not only about soccer, but about the entire system,” Klein said in an interview with TheWrap. “Time’s Up really was founded on very much of the same spirit. We really felt that … the time was past, and that we refuse to wait any longer to end gender inequality and to ensure safe, fair, and dignified work for women of all kinds.”
Since then, the two groups have made the partnership official and most recently held a private meeting on Thursday with 21 players, more than three-dozen Time’s Up members — including Brie Larson and America Ferrera — and pay equality advocates and experts to discuss industry change, public policy solutions, and cultural change, Klein said. (Time’s Up will not be involved in the national team’s lawsuit, Klein told TheWrap, and will instead focus on the wider pay inequity fight.)
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) August 2, 2019
As for public policy, Klein said the parties are setting their sights on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a proposed piece of legislation that would ban employers from asking job candidates about their previous salaries, stop employers from implementing rules that prevent employees from discussing their salaries, and require that employers disclose salary data with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since the bill passed the House in March but is currently waiting for a Senate decision, the USWNT-Time’s Up partnership would “advocate for the Senate to take action on that,” Klein said.
When it comes to cultural change, Klein said that the groups hope to host “convenings,” where women affected by pay inequity — particularly women of color and low-wage workers — would be able to share their stories through in-person events and online. While the particulars of those convenings are still being planned, Klein said the online component might manifest in a video featuring figures from the entertainment industry, the sports industry, and workers in low-wage jobs having a conversation about the effects of pay inequity.
Klein acknowledged that Time’s Up and USWNT have “bold goals” to accomplish over the next 18 months, but she’s hopeful that the fundraising portion of the partnership can generate just as much support as the movement’s Legal Defense Fund did when it launched in January 2018.
“It’s been this incredible joy to watch the players not only stand up for themselves and recognize the inequity that they faced in their own careers as players, but also for women and girls around the country,” Klein said. “Their boldness has been really an inspiration to all of us.”