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General Approach

General Approach

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

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 - one which is fully committed to respecting human rights - 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.


The adidas Group’s sustainability strategy is rooted in the Group’s values – performance, passion, integrity and diversity. It is built on the achievements and learnings from previous years, while taking into account the societal landscape and future global trends.

The four pillars of the adidas Group’s strategy are:


  • People: We positively influence the lives of our employees, factory workers and people living in the communities where we have a business presence.
  • Product: We find better ways to create our products – mainly through innovation, increased use of more sustainable materials and efficiencies.
  • Planet: We reduce the environmental footprint of both our own operations and our suppliers’ factories.
  • Partnership: We engage with critical stakeholders and collaborate with partners to improve our industry.


Our sustainability programme has earned highest external recognition by analysts and investors over the past decades. Ethical investment agencies and socially responsible investment (SRI) analysts such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the Financial Times Index FTSE4Good and ETHIBEL have rated the adidas Group as a leader in terms of social and environmental responsibility. Furthermore, the adidas Group is rated in the list of the ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World’ since 2005, and has made it to the podium of the ‘Global 100 Index’, ranking third as of January 2015.

These ratings are based on an in-depth analysis of the company’s social and environmental programme, including document review and interviews with employees and management. The positive assessments underscore the Group’s industry-leading role in sustainability, acknowledge its social, environmental and ethical engagement, and encourage the adidas Group to continue and intensify the activities that are addressed to improve its sustainability performance.

For more information about our track record of awards and recognition in sustainability, please click here.