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General Approach


General Approach

The ambition of the adidas Group is to be a sustainable company.

Our Sustainability Programme

Being a sustainable business is about striking the balance between shareholder expectations and the needs and concerns of our employees, the workers in our supply chain and the environment. We truly believe that acting as a responsible business in society is not only an ethical obligation, but will also contribute to lasting economic success.

We have been working towards sustainability for many years and recognise that the task ahead of us is a marathon, not a sprint. It is about preparedness and setting the right pace, having both the drive and stamina to make the distance. And most of all, it is about endurance: overcoming setbacks and difficulties, keeping the finishing line always in the forefront of our minds.


Our commitment to manage our business in a responsible way is rooted in the Group’s values and principles. Our understanding of becoming a sustainable company is outlined in the adidas Group Sustainability Statement:


These are the adidas Group values.

They help us to create brands that our customers believe in and they commit us to playing by the rules that society expects of a responsible company. Unlike sport, society’s rules are not always written down.

We discover them by engaging with the people that our business touches, learning above all that companies are expected to be accountable for their actions. So we are committed to reporting publicly on the steps we take to have a more positive impact on society and the planet.

For the adidas Group, this means designing products that are environmentally sound, and reducing the environmental impacts of our day-to-day operations and in our supply chain.

It is about setting workplace standards for our suppliers to meet and helping them to ensure fair, safe and healthy conditions in their factories. Importantly, it also means looking after the well-being and careers of our employees – the company’s biggest asset – and making a positive contribution to the communities where we operate.

Adhering to all applicable laws, directives and guidelines is a business imperative. But that is not enough. We are continuously striving to improve our performance and our standing in society. We set ourselves targets that stretch us, regularly review our progress and set ourselves new goals.

That is what the world’s leading athletes do, and it is what we must do as a global leader in the sporting goods industry.

The Sustainability Statement outlines the guiding framework for becoming a more sustainable company, and provides information on our individual missions in Social and Environmental Affairs, Environmental Management, Human Resources Management and Community Affairs.

Our proactive approach in managing sustainability issues is an inherent part of the Group’s Corporate Governance framework and risk management system.

Our Sustainability Strategy

How sustainability supports our business strategy

In 2010, the adidas Group presented the most comprehensive and aligned Strategic Business Plan ever created: Route 2015. Over these five years, we want to achieve qualitative and sustainable growth by building desirable, leading brands in the consumers’ and customers’ perception. Consumers want the products they buy to be the best, helping them perform at their best. However, nowadays they increasingly expect companies to do more than only consider social and environmental issues. They want to buy products from companies that are at the leading edge in terms of making a difference to the world at large.

We know that we can only follow this route if we are fully committed to managing our business operations in a sustainable way. While we have made big progress in laying the foundations for success in previous years, we must continue to drive innovations and to strengthen our systems and processes.

To become a truly sustainable company, we have taken a mature approach for the following five areas:

  • Products and planet: The adidas Group strives to integrate environmental thinking and acting into its daily operations. We empower our own employees to develop smarter solutions in product creation and be more resource efficient. The goal is to substantially improve the Group’s environmental footprint by changing our processes across every part of our value chain, from innovation and product design via development and manufacturing operations to our own stores and other sales channels. We have set measurable targets to be achieved by 2015 and progress against these targets will be measured on an annual basis.
  • Compliance in the supply chain: We acknowledge that we have a responsibility to the workers in our suppliers’ factories. Respecting their rights and ensuring health and safety and environmental protection is important to us. It was concern for their welfare and rights that led us to write a supplier code of conduct we call our "Workplace Standards". The Standards are a contractual obligation under the manufacturing agreement the adidas Group signs with its business partners. They help us select manufacturing partners and serve as guiding principles in the early identification and treatment of potential issues of concern at our suppliers’ sites. Over the years, we have developed a detailed approach to ensure that our suppliers, as well as those suppliers used by our licensees and agents adhere to our Workplace Standards.
  • Partnerships and stakeholder engagement: As a company we do not operate in isolation; we rather seek feedback from internal and external stakeholders by carefully listening, responding and engaging with them. To develop appropriate and innovative ways of embedding sustainability thinking and processes within our organisation, we interact with our own employees. Externally, we look for innovative forms of partnerships and collaboration that drive change in the industry. To achieve this, we engage in multiple ways with peers, civil society, governments, investors, analysts, customers, industry alliances and others.
  • Our employees: They are the most important asset of our company! Becoming the leader in the sporting goods industry depends upon the potential, dedication, knowledge and performance of our employees and excellence of our leaders. As such, we place considerable effort into creating a work environment that stimulates innovation, team spirit, engagement and achievement. We promote a performance culture based on strong leadership and therefore link employee compensation to Group and individual achievements. We aim to continuously develop our employees with opportunities for career progression, while upholding a culture that celebrates diversity and encourages global mobility. We also know how important it is to continue to attract and recruit new people to the adidas Group. To become a world-class recruiter we have launched innovative programmes to raise our profile with potential employees.
  • Community engagement: As a multinational enterprise, the adidas Group is present in many countries around the world and its business operations impact people’s lives in those communities. While there are many possible ways to get involved in aid or community programmes, the challenge is to know the local needs of the communities. We therefore have chosen a largely decentralised and brand-oriented approach for community involvement, recognising that people in the local offices best understand the needs and cultural sensitivities of their communities. Brand programmes are managed under the adidas Fund, the Reebok Corporate Responsibility Programme and the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Charity Programme. At Group level, we continue to support our suppliers’ communities as we make contributions to organisations that promote sustainable development practices within the industry.

Performing well on these critical issues will help us in our ambition to be the global leader in the sporting goods industry.