Adidas will promote the initiative on its shopping bags.

Adidas is doing its part to help level the playing field for women.

The activewear brand has teamed with Lean In, the organization founded by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg to encourage gender equality in the workplace. And today — which is Equal Pay Day — the organization is kicking off #20PercentCounts, the first of three public awareness campaigns to shine a light on the fact that women, on average, are paid 20 percent less than men for doing the same job.

On this day, Lean In has partnered with hundreds of U.S. businesses to share information on the gender pay gap in their communities.

For Adidas, the campaign will be promoted at its Adidas and Reebok retail stores across the U.S. as well as on their e-commerce sites.

The logo from the initiative.

The logo from the initiative. 

Karen Parkin, an Adidas executive board member in charge of the company’s global human resources, said Adidas’ chief executive officer and chief merchandising officer met with Sandberg last fall and decided to get involved.

“We’re partnering with an organization we have high respect and admiration for,” Parkin said. “We want to be an employer of choice and to do that, we need to offer equal career opportunities for males and females. Lean In has taken on the issue of the pay gap, which is a fundamental foundation of what we focus on.”

Lean In also seeks to raise awareness of the fact that black women are generally paid 38 percent less and Latinas 46 percent less and will launch similar campaigns for those causes on Aug. 7 and Nov. 1, respectively.

Parkin said Adidas takes this issue “very seriously” and has been working to remedy the situation within its own company. And the brand is making good progress. In the U.S., she said Adidas is actually at a 98 percent rate of paying men and women in identical roles the same salary. “And we’re striving to reach 100 percent,” she said.

In terms of the gender pay balance, which she described as the percentage of women in c-suite positions, Adidas has inched up to 31 percent from 24 percent in 2011 and has a goal to reach 32 percent by 2020. “And it would be OK if we overachieved that target,” she said. “We want to grow the number of women in senior positions, but create the right environment for both [genders].”

The goal of today’s initiative, she said, is to “help educate others,” both inside and outside the company. She said the Adidas and Reebok stores will be “remerchandised to promote the message”of #20PercentCounts and the campaign will be featured on everything from shopping bags to receipts.

Staff members are also being educated about the issue so they can pass along talking points to customers.

Other large brands that are involved in today’s promotion are P&G and Lyft. The car service company plans to ask its riders how they’d feel if their trip ended with 20 percent left to go, and P&G is promoting the cause in its April BrandSaver, which reaches 46 million U.S. households as well as sponsoring the campaign videos.

“Closing the gender pay gap is about basic fairness,” said Sandberg. “It’s about valuing women’s work and investing in women’s abilities. It’s about supporting the families who depend on women every day. And it’s about building an economy that makes the most of everyone’s talent.”

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