When you have a well-developed approach to sustainability, as adidas has, engagement is rarely a one-off event: stakeholder relationships develop over time and, along the way, the nature of the dialogue changes and matures. Where there is a positive and open approach to engagement, perspectives can be shared, differences respected and, at times, new partnerships forged.
Our stakeholders are those people or organizations who affect or are affected by our operations. Companies do not operate in isolation from society and our stakeholders have a legitimate interest in the way we do business. adidas stakeholders are a diverse group and include the following:
- adidas employees
- Authorizers: government, trade associations, shareholders, Executive Board
- Business partners: unions, suppliers, service providers
- Workers in our suppliers’ factories
- Opinion-formers: journalists, community members, special interest groups
- Customers: professional athletes, distributors, retailers, consumers
- Peers: other multinationals, consumer goods companies and brands
The number of stakeholders is large and also subject to change periodically, for example due to specific issues or trends. In order to systematically identify these stakeholders, we use an extensive network of contacts - spanning across more than 60 countries - to pinpoint areas for dialog and applicable parties to engage with. Using this feedback, we prioritize stakeholders based on criteria such as action radius, relevance, risk, willingness and capacity to engage. We also consider appropriate representation of different stakeholder groups. The prioritization may change depending on the issue.
Operationally, this translates into a diverse range of engagements, including with local and international NGOs, labor rights advocacy groups, human rights advocacy groups, trade unions, investors, SRI (socially responisble investment) analysts, national and international government agencies, and academics. adidas also participates in a series of long terms purpose-built fora and multi-stakeholder initiatives, including the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the Bangladesh Accord, among others.
An analysis of adidas’ primary current stakeholder engagements is maintained on an ongoing basis and reviewed at least annually.
Forms of Engagements
Our policy towards our stakeholders is clear: we actively engage, we listen, we seek to understand their ideas and concerns and, where it is within our ability, we act. Relationship management ranges from passive to more active engagement, i.e. from informing to involving them. We engage with our stakeholders in a number of ways:
- Formal stakeholder consultation meetings/ stakeholder dialogs with our industry peers, with workers, union representatives, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and our business partners.
- Meetings with socially responsible investment (SRI) analysts
- Internal reporting and induction programs with our employees
- Responding to enquiries from consumers, interest groups and the media
- Collaborating with other brands in joint initiatives or business forums
- Outreach to graduates and the academic community.
Stakeholder Meeting Reports
In the following you find all reports from stakeholder dialogue meetings since 2001.
adidas holds strong relationships within the sustainability area. The following table summarizes key collaborations and memberships of adidas in the sustainability area. We describe the principal reasons for our ongoing participation in each of these organizations.
|Status||Reason for participation|
|Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management (AFIRM) Working Group||Industry Association||2004||Founding member and participating company.||
Industry-leading group that strives to reduce the impact of harmful substances and tracks regulatory compliance.
|Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)||Multi-Stakeholder Organization||2004||Founding member and participating company.||
Promotes measurable improvements in the key environmental and social impacts of cotton cultivation worldwide.
|European Outdoor Group (EOG)||Industry Association||2009||Member and participating company; interim Vice Chair of the sustainability working group.||To engage with players in the outdoor industry on sustainability matters.|
|German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles||Government-led multi-stakeholder initiative||2015||Participating company; member of the Review and Chemicals working groups||
Promote measurable social, ecological and economic improvements along the textile and apparel supply chain
|International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) Business Group||Non-profit environmental organization||2015||
|Minimize the use of hazardous chemicals and their impact on health and the environment, and promote sustainable innovation|
|Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC)||Non-Profit Organization||2006||Founding member (Reebok) and participating company; Board seat.||To promote transparency and share audit findings and remedial action plans across the industry.|
|Fair Labor Association (FLA)||Non-Profit Organization||1999||Founding member and participating company; Board seat.||Provides independent accreditation and oversight of our internal programs.|
|Leather Working Group (LWG)||Industry Association||2005||Founding member and participating company.||Improves environmental conditions in the leather supply chain.|
|Parley for the Oceans||Collaboration Network||2015||
Founding member with seat in the steering committee
|Thought leader in ocean conservation and eco innovation, creating awareness and forging collaborations to end the destruction of the oceans.|
|Independent, binding agreement between brands and trade unions||2013||Participating company||
Work towards a safe and healthy garment and textile industry in Bangladesh.
|World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI)||Industry Association||1985||Founding member and participating company; Chair of CSR Committee.||Represents the sporting goods industry in various venues and drives alignment among members.|
|Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)||Industry Association||2011||Founding member and participating company.||
Industry-leading group that strives to reduce the impact of harmful substances.
We are also engaged in selected organizations worldwide such as national and international chambers of commerce, industry and business associations, and multi-stakeholder initiatives. These organizations focus, amongst others, on advocating free trade, ensuring intellectual property protection, monitoring national legislation, setting sustainability-related industry standards and providing for exchange and networking.
Based on principles as laid out in the corporate compliance policy adidas does not support any local, regional or national political parties, campaigns or candidates.
We publicly disclose our EU lobbying activities annually in the European Union Transparency Register, including public grants we receive from the EU. We register our lobbying activities in the United States with the U.S. Congress on a quarterly basis, according to the U.S. Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. These disclosures are published on the official website of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As a company we support human rights and protect the environment. Therefore, our concerns over violation of human rights and negative environmental impacts, and the potential risks that these would pose to adidas, require our close engagement with governments in different countries.
For example, in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), we engaged with the Cambodian government about the issue of prison labor. Together with other stakeholders, we signed a pledge calling for the Uzbek government to end the forced child labor happening every year in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan. In Indonesia we are in contact with the government to discuss the issue of foreign factory owners leaving the country and failing to fulfil their fiduciary duties during factory closures. And in Singapore, we were invited to offer our views on the role of business and human rights in a key workshop with ASEAN member states, which in turn led to our participation in an ASEAN business leaders round-table on human rights.
Cotton in Uzbekistan
adidas is aware of and concerned about the social and environmental conditions that exist in certain areas of the cotton industry today. These conditions, in the worst cases, include child labor, human exposure to pesticides and environmental pollution. Due to ongoing concerns regarding the continued use of government-backed forced child labor during the cotton-picking season in Uzbekistan, we joined an alliance of international investors, brands and non-governmental organisations that urged the Uzbek government to eradicate this practice and to fully adhere to core conventions of the International Labour Organization.
In 2011, adidas along with several US and European companies representing a large number of brands and retailers signed a pledge calling for the Uzbek government to end the forced child labor happening every year in the cotton sector of Uzbekistan. While further maturing the traceability of our material, we have reminded our suppliers that we expect them to ensure, to the best of their knowledge, that no cotton and cotton materials used originate from Uzbekistan. Click here to find out more about the pledge.
Prison Labor in Cambodia
adidas joined five other major brands in writing to the Cambodian government to express concern over the reported development of a prison rehabilitation scheme that permits garments to be manufactured by prison labor. In the communications with the government, the international buyers shared their concerns over the need to ensure the integrity of global supply chains and the potential risks that stem from unauthorized subcontracting in the apparel sector in Cambodia.
Staff from the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) Better Factories program – which monitors labor conditions in adidas supplier factories in Cambodia – provided us with regular updates on the situation and reached out to the government and other UN agencies, to obtain their perspectives and feedback. The brands’ concerns were formally acknowledged by the Minister of Commerce and were addressed through an inter-ministerial committee, which was formed to examine and safeguard against undisclosed or illegal subcontracting arrangements in the apparel and footwear industry. The Minister of Commerce subsequently made public the government’s efforts in regulating contract supply chains.
In the following please find some examples of our engagement with governments and public authorities:
adidas continues its support for the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
|2014, Jan||Open letter to Cambodian Government: A new call for peaceful resolution of nationwide strike linked to the Cambodian garment industry annual minimum wage increase||Download PDF|
|2014, Jan||Open letter to Cambodian Government, Manufacturers and Trade Unions: Calling for peaceful resolution of nationwide strike linked to the Cambodian garment industry annual minimum wage increase||Download PDF|
|2010, Sep||Letter to Cambodian Government concerning the minimum wage negotiations, agreements and strikes||Download PDF|
|2009, Oct||Letter to the US State Department concerning the impacts on the employment of garment and textile workers, should trade policy on Madagascar change||Download PDF|
|2009, Jul||Letter to Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton concerning the situation in Honduras||Download PDF|
|2007, Oct||Open letter to the El Salvador Government concerning the Hermosa factory||Download PDF|
|2007, Oct||Open letter to the El Salvador Government concerning the Hermosa factory (Spanish Version)||Download PDF|
Corporate responsibility is an important topic at various sporting events around the world. Our brands are visible all over the world, especially through our presence at major sports events such as the Football World Cup or the Olympic Games. This draws attention to the way we do business and the conditions under which our products are made. Therefore, adidas is taking a proactive approach in engaging with stakeholders about its corporate responsibility practices, especially related to bigger sporting events where adidas is a sponsor.
2015 London Dialog on Human Rights Impacts of Major Sporting Events
Sport matters. It matters to the dedicated athlete who is trying to be the best he can be. It matters to fans all over the world as they follow their team. And it matters to us, because it lies at the heart of our business. For more than a decade we have been hosting stakeholder dialogs to gain insights and understanding of what matters to our stakeholders. In July 2015, we invited participants from academia, non-governmental organisations, UN agencies, and sports bodies to discuss The Human Rights Impacts of Major Sporting Events - the Role of Sponsors.
Why this topic, and why now? When the UN Guiding Principles (UNGP) on Business and Human Rights were published in 2011 we made a public commitment to uphold those principles and the corresponding requirements in the revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations. In order to gauge human rights risks, the UNGP calls on business enterprises to identify and assess any actual or potential adverse human rights impacts with which they may be involved, either directly, or as a result of their business relationships. To properly assess risk, enterprises must utilise human rights expertise, as well as regular and meaningful consultation with potentially affected groups and other relevant stakeholders.
In 2013-14 we conducted a high level human rights risk mapping exercise of our business operations. The risk mapping forms part of our general human rights due diligence approach, which includes annual country risk appraisals, a third party complaint mechanism (see above) and associated remedial processes. The mapping exercise highlighted a number of potential risk areas, where more focused attention would be warranted. The human rights impacts arising out of our involvement in and sponsorship of major sporting events was one such area.
The London dialog in 2015 focused on exploring the role of corporate sponsors in major sporting events with respect to upholding human rights and addressing the challenge of moving from principles to practice. The intention was to help us move the bar on the issue, both internally and externally within the corporate sponsor community. With this in mind, the dialog for the day broadly followed three core themes:
- The role of corporate sponsorship in major sporting events,
- Exploring the boundaries of responsibility on human rights, and
- Building Practical Action.
A full report of the 2 July, 2015 London Stakeholder Dialog can be found here.
The dialogue identified both immediate short-term actions, as well as long term opportunities, for sponsors to engage with sporting bodies and other stakeholders over the human rights impacts of mega sporting events (MSEs). These are summarised below.
This critically important stakeholder feedback will help shape the company's future role and roadmap, as a sponsor, in responding to the human rights impacts associated with MSEs.
- Sponsors to engage collectively and directly, share experience and, ideally, develop a pledge to fulfill and support the delivery of the UN –Guiding Principles (UNGP) in major sporting events.
- Consider participation in the planned Sports and Human Rights Forum (co-hosted by Wilton Park and IHRB) in Lausanne/Switzerland on the 18/19 November 2015
- Consider participation in the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights proposed meeting in Qatar in February 2016. This will address human rights issues across the region Asia in general, but will also provide an opportunity to look at progress and efforts related to the World Cup developments.
- Engage further. Sponsors and FIFA to consider in a roundtable meeting with international advocacy groups, including the fans, to discuss the challenges of hosting the World Cup in Russia. This will provide greater legitimacy and transparency about the important work FIFA and sponsors have been already doing and their plans.
- Address the current and obvious silos both within sporting bodies and within sponsoring companies, where the sustainability and human rights champions and the commercial or marketing arms of these organizations do not always align or engage. This was clearly identified by sponsors and event organizers equally; organizations and sponsors would benefits from a more regular engagement.
- As part of developing a clearer, collective voice, the development of an independent oversight body (particularly within the context of major sporting events) would prove beneficial in holding all involved parties to account and ensuring greater transparency of practice. Click here to read the joint statement ‘Diverse Coalition Commits to Making Human Rights Central to the Planning, Delivery and Legacy of Mega-Sporting Events’ (June 2016).
- Drive good governance. Sponsors should support improved governance and capacity within sports bodies to help them adopt and apply the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights.
- As is typical of major sporting events, we expect activities by advocacy groups before and during the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil. We seek direct dialog with all interested stakeholders and act upon any concern or allegation raised. In Brazil, we also support specific grass-roots community projects in cooperation with local partners. One such project is the ‘Ginga Social’ initiative. This sports-based program uses coaching to teach values and life skills to young people aged between 7 and 17. It will run from 2011 to 2014 in five low-income neighbourhoods in Sâo Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Salvador – FIFA World Cup 2014™ host cities.
2014 World Cup in Brazil
As a long-term partner of FIFA, adidas regularly provides in-depth information about its sustainability program to FIFA. We disclose supplier lists and share policies and guidelines with them and the public in general. With regard to the World Cup in Brazil, we are in close contact with non-governmental organisations and we also engage with public authorities so that we can closely follow any societal and environmental developments.
Our partner organization Gol de Letra helps local organisations implement the program. Their "train the trainer" model equips local coaches to make an ongoing positive difference to the lives of vulnerable young people in their neighbourhood. The project will also invest in local sports facilities, vital in a country where 86% of its more than 190 million inhabitants live in cities where space for sports is often scarce and expensive.
2012 Stakeholder Dialog on London Olympic Games
In preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games, we hosted a stakeholder dialog in London in May 2011 to capture a broad array of stakeholder views on adidas' role and responsibilities in relation to sponsoring major sporting events. Labelled as the world's first Sustainable Olympics, London 2012 presented new challenges as well as opportunities for the adidas.
It was the first Games to include a mandatory Sustainable Sourcing Code and a third-party complaint mechanism for companies supplying goods to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). Building on our outreach from a stakeholder workshop in 2011, we continued to engage with key interest groups, including the UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF), among others.
As is typical of major sporting events, we saw a spike in the campaigning activities by labor rights groups – some held protests, others submitted petitions and a few staged stunts to take their message to the media and the public. Poverty and living wages featured prominently in the campaigns, as did freedom of association and working conditions in global supply chains.
In May 2012, the Play Fair Campaign, a civil society alliance, published a report called ‘Fair Games? Human Rights of Workers in Olympic 2012 Supplier Factories’ highlighting issues and concerns over workplace conditions, stretching from Sri Lanka to the Philippines. Aided by our transparency in disclosing the locations of the factories making products for the London 2012 Olympic Games, the report featured many of our suppliers. Some of the issues raised in the report were subsequently used to form the grounds for complaints lodged under LOCOG's grievance mechanism. The complaint mechanism drew us into more in-depth and specific engagements with the TUC, ITGLWF, Labour Behind the Label, government agencies and other organisations in China and the Philippines. In 2013, we have been continuing our follow-up work in the Philippines which has been part of our formal commitments towards the complainants.
The media also played an active part in our engagement around the London Olympic Games, running stories on working conditions and wages in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia. Newspaper allegations over working conditions in Indonesia prompted an independent investigation by LOCOG, which reached very similar conclusions to our own findings.
We took all such allegations seriously and we immediately launched in-depth investigation into each issue raised. The results of our full investigations have been shared with LOCOG, who commissioned a third party to review our findings and conduct independent off-site worker interviews. The findings of that independent review are published by LOCOG on their website.
Greenpeace Detox Campaign
In 2011, Greenpeace International initiated the 'DETOX Campaign' calling for the zero discharge of all hazardous and persistent chemicals at all points in global supply chains: from the cotton fields to the mills and dye houses that make the fabric, up to the garment production. Greenpeace has directed its campaign primarily towards sporting goods companies and well-known apparel brands in the belief that they can act as a catalyst for change for the whole industry. As part of their campaign, Greenpeace demanded that targeted companies publish a formal commitment to suppot the goal of 'zero discharge' and issue an individual roadmap specifying timelines and steps to meet this goal.
From the outset, adidas entered into an in-depth engagement process wiht Greenpeace. We publicly committed to support Greenpeace's goal but also stressed the fact that the management of chemicals in mulit-tiered supply chains is a complex challenge, which requires many actors to play a role in achieving effective and sustainable solutions.
More information on chemical management can be found here.
|2014, Jun||Interim report on adidas' individual roadmap to eliminate hazardous chemicals||Download PDF|
|2013, Oct||Statement by adidas on the International Leadership Board Ranking published by Greenpeace||Download PDF|
|2011, Nov||adidas individual roadmap toward zero discharge of hazardous chemicals||Download PDF|
adidas Verifies FSC® Certification for Laces
adidas unveiled its 'Clean Classics' sustainable footwear collection in September 2020. The sneakers' uppers are made from 70% recycled materials. Renewable and reclaimed rubber is used for the sole. All processed materials, including adhesives and dyes, are free of animal ingredients. The laces are made of paper.
adidas intended to source FSC-certified paper for the laces as a sustainable source material for the 'Clean Classics'. Currently, we are not able to fully trace whether this certified paper actually went into the production. We are in close contact with our suppliers and the certifier FSC to clarify this. In addition, we will further expand our cooperation with FSC in the future with regard to the procurement of sustainable raw materials.
As an immediate measure, we do not use any reference to FSC certification in the context of product presentation in our online store. More information about FSC can be found here.
Trade Unions and Freedom of Association in Indonesia
Indonesia has been one of our most important sourcing countries in Asia for many years. As a result, we have seen steady progress and improvements in terms of labor conditions in the country. Nevertheless, we are aware that our suppliers face certain challenges in meeting our workplace standards and the expectations of international non-governmental organizations.
One area where we are working closely with organizations such as Oxfam Australia, the ITGLWF and local NGOs and trade unions is the development of a freedom of association protocol in Indonesia. adidas took the lead role in a committee of suppliers and brand representatives that was established in 2010 with the aim of working closely with the trade union movement in Indonesia. This aims to establish a basic framework for the implementation of trade union rights in the workplace. The official signing of the protocol took place in Jakarta in June 2011. This event was hailed by the international labor rights movement as a "historic agreement" between sportswear brands, suppliers and unions.
We are confident that this protocol will set a crucial benchmark for suppliers, and that its provisions can align the different expectations. We hope it will reduce misunderstandings between management and union representatives regarding union activities, affiliation rights, etc., and as a result, improve labor relations in the industry overall. As part of our commitment to the protocol, we have called on all our suppliers to sign the protocol and agree to implement the requirements set out in it. adidas has also actively promoted the adoption of the protocol to other international companies sourcing in Indonesia.
Other examples of our interaction with the civil society:
|2021, Mar||Statement on the situation in Myanmar||Download PDF|
|2020, Apr||adidas’ supply chain measures during the covid-19 pandemic||Download PDF|
|2020, Mar||adidas’ response to research findings published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institution (ASPI)||Download PDF|
|2017, Jul||Answer to ‘Clean Clothes Campaign’: PT Panarub Dwikarya Benoa||Link|
|2015, Oct||Stakeholder Dialogue Report: ‘Human Rights Impact of Major Sporting Events and the Role of Sponsors’||Link|
|2015, Aug||Response to WRC Recommendations on Yuen Yuen and Social Security in the People's Republic of China: This document is part of the summary of independent complaints we received in 2014.||Download PDF|
|2012, Sep||Letter to universities in North America about the activities related to the PT Kizone factory.||Download PDF|