2019 Champion For Equality Award Recipient

Published on October 16th, 2019

John Burke

A leader by example, John Burke has spent his career advocating for women in sport.

Since 1997, John has been the president and CEO of Trek Bicycle Corporation. Founded in 1976 by his father, Richard Burke, John joined the family business in 1984. The company has been at the forefront of technological innovation in cycling since its inception, and, under John’s guidance, Trek has continued to blossom.

Trek made their targeted push for the women’s market in 2000, when they launched WSD (Women’s Specific Design) line of bicycles and accessories. Trek began an event called “Ladies Night Out” for women to learn about cycling, discover new products and ultimately, encourage them to ride by joining the Trek Ride Club.

Trek is deeply invested in creating parity between men’s and women’s cycling and brought the issue of inequality to the forefront in 2017 when it announced that it would become the first Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Cyclo-Cross World Championships organizer to offer equal payout to both fields at an event hosted at Trek’s headquarters in Waterloo, Wis. Responding to Trek’s leadership, UCI – the sport’s governing body – mandated that as of 2020, all World Cup races must offer equal payout to both fields.

With its new Trek-Segafredo women’s cycling team, Trek has shown the world what the future of professional women’s cycling can look like, with 13 riders from 10 nations. In addition to comprehensive maternity benefits, each rider receives the same level of support as the men, including equipment, coaching, logistics, management and nutritional and medical guidance.

Looking to close the gender gap in the business of cycling, John has led the push for Trek retailers to include more women in the hiring process. Trek has also created a team of women’s advocates who welcome and inspire more women to join cycling. The initiative began in 2016 at Trek’s inaugural Global Women’s Summit and has grown to over 100 women advocates internationally.

In addition to leading Trek, John served as chairman of President George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and is a founding member of People for Bikes.