View from the Works Council
Here Sabine Bauer, Chairwoman of both the Central Works Council in Germany and the European Works Council, gives her views on the social and environmental programme at the adidas Group and how the issues affect employees.
Q: First of all, do you think it is important to have a social and environmental programme?
A: I would say it is essential to have this programme. Employees are more and more aware about these issues all the time - they want to know what kind of social and environmental engagement the company has. They don't want to work for a company where something fishy is going on.
Q: One part of the Environmental Strategy is the Green Teams programme. Is that a good way to engage employees?
A: In my opinion, it is a good start. I think if people can focus on what matters to them then they have an emotional attachment to that issue, and they can be authentic ambassadors for tackling that issue and motivating others to take action.
Q: The HR team's watchword is 'engagement drives performance'. How successfully does the company engage and manage its employees?
A: The company has a very good framework and tools. When it comes to implementing those or living it in a sustainable way, we have some areas where it works well and others where there is still room for improvement.
Q: Employees seem very dedicated to the adidas Group. But is there a risk that this can be exploited?
A: In theory, dedication and enthusiasm of the individual can always be exploited, either by managers or by the individuals themselves. Therefore, it is indispensable to have regulations and the appropriate tools in place, and to create and keep working conditions and recognition tools that grant a healthy, sustainable working environment.
Q: We have a multinational business. Does the company deal with that well?
A: The areas and departments that are the most successful are the ones that think about the other person's culture, respect it and learn from it. This is visible to a large extent and serves as a role model. Of course, this is an area of continuous improvement activities. Our diversity is a tremendous strength.
Q: What about gender issues? Are there still pay discrepancies for example?
A: There are still some areas where women have not reached the same level of respect and grade as their male colleagues. And there is certainly also room for improvement regarding the top management positions, meaning a better balance. Related topics are part-time working and parental leave; both deserve more recognition as something valuable. We do have some women working part-time in senior positions but we could have more. People should be valued for what they contribute to the business and not the hours they put in. That would be a huge step forward.
Q: Turning to community involvement, do you see lots of opportunities for employees to participate?
A: We do have a good base but we should promote it a little better. You need a variety of ways that people can get involved. Education and helping children may not be an area that suits everyone. But everybody has something to offer, I'm sure, so diversity plays an important role here also.
Q: How much attention is paid to corporate responsibility at the Supervisory Board?
A: There have always been regular updates on initiatives, projects and results. Going forward, I would encourage an even deeper involvement to keep track with the ever-changing and growing demands.
Q: How would you enhance the corporate responsibility programme at the adidas Group?
A: First of all, I would like to see employee representation at a global level - a Global Works Council - which would be a platform for employees everywhere to exchange information and best practice.
Secondly, if there were more people doing CR as their daily job, then it would have a higher profile internally. If the issue got more attention, that would drive more engagement. And with more engagement you usually get better input and better results. Everything follows from there.