We can talk about strategy and becoming the best sports brand in the world all day long, but we would get nowhere without the people who come to work and make it happen every day: our employees.
We believe that a diverse workforce made up of people with different ideas, strengths, interests and cultural backgrounds is the pillar of success. The next great idea or innovation that will change the world of sport will come from those who are allowed to be their true selves and follow their dreams and ideas to the finish line without artificial boundaries in their way. For this reason, we want to make sure that every single employee regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation feels welcome at the adidas Group, is proud to be part of this company and can go on to change the world of sport for the better.
The adidas Group has always been a global village. We are proud of our German heritage, but the truth is we have been an international company from the very start. An absolutely essential piece of the puzzle is the understanding that you simply cannot have innovation without diversity. The level of innovation is any organization is in direct proportion to the diversity of its people. Diversity provides the steady stream of new ideas, fresh perspectives and contrary points of view that are the lifeblood of innovation. As part of the adidas Group since 1997, I have seen first-hand the innovation that can happen when you get a diverse group of people into one room to take risks, think creatively and solve a problem together.
When you make ‘diversity’ one of your core values, you have to follow up on it all the way through. We aim to be a diverse company on every level in all aspects, including gender, nationality and generation, and to build a creative and innovative workforce that celebrates differences and experiences across borders of any kind. It starts but most certainly does not stop with the hiring process. It extends to training and special networking groups among many other diversity measures. For this reason, we take a proactive approach to increase and promote diversity within our company and create an environment that celebrates diversity as a whole and doesn’t just cherry-pick those elements that are currently ‘in demand’.
- We recognize the wealth of similarities and differences between employees, and the personal value of each and every employee as well as the fact that these diverse and different perspectives enrich our products and our contribution to sport and competing athletes.
- We strive for mutual respect and appreciation, more diversity in the adidas Group as well as for open-mindedness and partnership between our employees and within our social environment.
- We work proactively to create an environment that welcomes, respects and embraces diversity to benefit from the value of a diverse workforce and to ensure that our employees and our products are at the top of their game.
We make it a priority to understand why every employee is part of our company, what their needs are and how we can help them to be their best. We want to provide a choice to each and every one of our employees that enables them to find their own way within the adidas Group based on their individual background and not force-fitting them into a pre-selected path that is not flexible and transparent. That is not the world we live in anymore. We change lives through sport every day and we start with our employees.
A global company attracts employees from all nationalities and that is a good thing. With intercultural communication and training, our employees learn how to overcome possible challenges presented to them in an intercultural working environment. In the end, creativity can only fully evolve when disagreements or conflicts are handled appropriately and with mutual respect.
There are many facets to diversity. Parity and equality across them all is essential in creating the ideal culture. As a senior female leader I am keenly aware of the need to address issues around gender parity within the workplace. It is important that both genders have equal opportunities to contribute and succeed. As you can see in the chart below, the adidas Group has an even ratio of female to male employees. However as of today, less than 30% of senior roles are held by women. That will change. Together with our CEO Kasper Rorsted we are committed to a more gender-balanced leadership.
We believe in mixed leadership teams. This is why we already set the goal of increasing the number of women in leadership positions four years before the respective legislation came into effect. To achieve our goal to increase women in management globally from 29% today to 32% by 2017, we have increased the percentage share of women participating in our leadership development programmes by 35% in recent years. Since the 2014 Annual General Meeting, we can proudly report that 30% of all Supervisory Board members are women – easily meeting the target set by German law two years early.
Being a diverse company is not limited to inside our walls. We actively participate in conferences in Germany such as ‘Women & Work’ as well as ‘Sticks & Stones’ and ‘Rambo’ in the US to ensure that our all-encompassing diversity strategy appeals to and supports all genders and orientations. And speaking of support, our active memberships in both ‘Catalyst’ and the ‘Diversity Charter’ allow us to acquire new knowledge and further demonstrate our commitment to promote diversity in our workforce and society. In addition, we regularly check up on our efforts by participating in benchmark surveys such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index Survey to ensure that we are on the right path. The index benchmarks companies’ workplace policies and practices according to how inclusive and equitable they are for the LGBTQ community, and we are proud to have achieved a perfect score of 100% this year.
We believe that diversity can be a game changer. It represents our consumers, our values, and the world we live in. It is the trigger to endless creativity and the key to long-term success. When individuals with different experiences and backgrounds, those who see the world a little differently, come together in one unit, it will make all the difference and enable us to break through walls that seemed unbreakable. The world is a remarkably diverse place with endless opportunities when you do it right. This is the world we at the adidas Group want you be part of.
Implementation of the German Act on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Executive Positions in the Private and Public Sector
German law states that, from 1 January 2016, at least 30% of Supervisory Board representatives of publicly listed companies such as adidas AG shall be women. This target has already been achieved since the AGM in 2014. In addition, by 30 September 2015, the Supervisory Board is required to set targets with regard to the quota of women on the Executive Board and the Executive Board is required to set targets with regard to the quota of women on the two levels below the Executive Board. We have therefore defined such targets for adidas AG in addition to our global mixed leadership goals.
Supervisory Board and Executive Board of adidas AG have set the following specific targets to be achieved by 30 June 2017:
- The Supervisory Board will appoint one woman to the adidas AG Executive Board.
- The percentage share of women at Board -1 level will be increased from 11% today to 18%.
- The percentage share of women at Board -2 level will be increased from 26% today to 30%.
Our utmost priority, and a prerequisite for increasing the number of women at the highest levels of management, is the general promotion of women within the adidas Group worldwide at all levels of management. Notwithstanding the above, the adidas Group will continue to support and promote international careers.
Additionally, we feel it is important to reiterate that quotas for women only come into effect during candidate selection when the candidates who make it through to the final round are equally qualified. The priority is, and has always been, to choose the candidate who is best qualified for the role.
We believe that diversity can be a game changer. It represents our consumers, our values, and the world we live in. It is the trigger to endless creativity and the key to long-term success. When individuals with different experiences and backgrounds, those who see the world a little differently, come together in one unit, it will make all the difference and enable us to break through walls that seemed unbreakable. The world is a remarkably diverse place with endless opportunities when you do it right.
This is the world we at the adidas Group want you be part of.