The WNBA announced on Tuesday that president Lisa Borders is stepping down from her post to become the first president and CEO of “Time’s Up”, an advocacy group that provides assistance to victims of sexual harassment.
Borders had overseen the WNBA for the last three years, and been present as the league has grown exponentially since she took over as president. NBA commissioner Adam Silver praised Borders’ stewardship of the league since taking over in 2016.
“We are extremely grateful for Lisa’s leadership and tireless commitment to the WNBA,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “This is a natural transition for Lisa knowing what a champion she is for issues involving women’s empowerment and social justice and fortunately for us, she leaves the league with strong tail winds propelling it forward.”
Borders came to the WNBA with a long history of work in all three sectors, private, public, and non-profit. She came to the WNBA from Coca-Cola, where Borders served as vice president of global community affairs. In her time as WNBA president, numerous innovations and marketing deals were brought to the league, including a new jersey deal with Nike, an agreement with Twitter to stream games on the social media platform, and bringing women to NBA video games for the first time through a deal with EA Sports’ NBA Live franchise.
Borders explained what the last three years have meant to her, and promised to remain close to the league.
“It has been an honor and my absolute privilege leading the WNBA and being part of what it stands for,” said Borders. “I want to thank Adam for giving me the opportunity and support to help grow this league. I am most proud of the W players for their amazing talents on the court and their dedication to making an impact in their communities. I look forward to continuing my support for the W in my new role with Time’s Up. I will always be the W’s biggest advocate and fan.”
What is “Time’s Up”?
The Time’s Up organization was foundered in January 2018 in response to sexual harassment allegations made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. It established a legal defense fund to assist women who don’t have access to large public platforms to continue the work of the #MeToo movement and speak out against harassment. The organization is also pushing legislation that would punish corporations who tolerated the behavior from employees.
Time’s Up is also trying to help persuade Hollywood to reach gender parity with results to pay, which reared its head in early 2018 when it was revealed that Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million for re-shoots for the film All the Money in the World, while Michelle Williams received just $800 for the same work. Wahlberg subsequently donated his pay for the reshoots to Time’s Up’s legal defense fund.
Where does this leave the WNBA?
Borders is definitely leaving the WNBA in a better place than she took over, but this is also a tumultuous time for the league. The 2019 season marks the last under the WNBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, with players expected to demand larger salaries as the league continues to grow.
While salary parity with the NBA is unrealistic due to a significantly smaller revenue pool many current players argue there isn’t a fair split in how the WNBA divides up the assets that it does have. The NBA spends close to 50 percent of its total revenue on player salaries, while the WNBA spends less than 25 percent of its earnings.
WNBA players aren’t asking to get paid what players in the NBA are, they just want a fair split of revenue — and that will bring friction, as all CBA negotiations tend to bring. For now NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum is overseeing the league on an interim basis, but the next person who becomes president of the WNBA will be on a tight schedule to address the issues at hand.