On the heels of its founder and CEO Kevin Plank’s comments on Tuesday — which referred to President Donald Trump as “highly passionate” and a “real asset” for U.S. firms — Under Armour is looking to clear the air regarding its political stance, or lack thereof.
The company said in an email statement to Footwear News today that its culture “has always been about optimism, teamwork and unity” and that it participates “in policy, not politics.”
“We have engaged with both the prior and the current administrations in advocating on business issues that we believe are in the best interests of our consumers, teammates and shareholders,” a spokesperson for Under Armour said. “We have always been committed to developing innovative ways to support and invest in American jobs and manufacturing.”
In his interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Plank said he believed that Trump “wants to build things” and “make bold decisions and be really decisive.” Under Armour’s chief added that he is “a big fan of people that operate in the world of publish and iterate versus think, think, think, think, think. So there’s a lot that I respect there.”
Plank’s upbeat commentary about the commander in chief came just weeks after he became one of 12 corporate CEOs to score a seat at the White House as Trump discussed several strategies aimed at bringing jobs to the U.S.
The Under Armour spokesperson also addressed Plank’s involvement in that meeting: “Kevin Plank was recently invited at the request of the president of the United States to join the American Manufacturing Council as part of a distinguished group of business leaders. He joined CEOs from companies such as Dow Chemical, Dell, Ford, GE and Tesla, among others to begin an important dialogue around creating jobs in America. We believe it is important for Under Armour to be a part of that discussion.”
Several executive orders signed by President Trump over the past two weeks — most notably a ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries — have drawn criticism from key players in the athletic industry, including Nike president and CEO Mark Parker. Meanwhile, other industry players have expressed concern over the impact of Trump’s protectionist rhetoric and proposed policies on U.S.-based firms that do business globally.
While his recent comments had been largely viewed as pro-Trump, Plank acknowledged that he sees some challenges for U.S. firms stemming from the president’s proposed border adjustment tax.
“The border tax would have an absolutely very, very difficult effect on all companies in the consumer space, particularly retailers,” Plank said in the CNBC interview. “It’s the No. 1 issue when you ask me about the new administration.”
Meanwhile, Under Armour also said today that it is focused on “advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore.”
“We have teammates from different religions, races, nationalities, genders and sexual orientations; different ages, life experiences and opinions,” the company spokesperson noted.