For years, adidas has worked closely with a number of organizations on both a local and global level to actively support and positively impact communities. Our programs are built on three complementary pillars – community involvement, employee engagement and corporate giving – determined by local cultural, economic and social factors. Supplementary programs include activities at adidas headquarters, relief operations and projects in suppliers’ countries.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AS PART OF OVERALL STRATEGY
Our community engagement is essential to our overall approach to sustainability that focuses on three strategic ‘People’ priorities: to empower people, to improve health and to inspire action. These strategic priorities are supported by our corporate giving guidelines and various programs for employee and community involvement.
Throughout the world, we aim to maximize our positive impact by targeting countries and regions in which we have major sourcing operations. We recognize that people in our local offices best understand the needs and cultural sensitivities in their communities. For that reason, we regularly partner with local organizations. After implementation of a project, we also involve NGOs to review the impact of the work.
Furthermore, we support our suppliers’ communities by making contributions to organizations that promote sustainable development practices within the industry. As natural or other disasters can strike at any moment, we also provide financial aid and donate products to international aid organizations that support affected victims. Our strong relationships with humanitarian aid organizations help us to bring supplies into affected areas.
Always mindful of where we can make the most meaningful impact, adidas has an ongoing involvement in refugee initiatives. Our overall approach to support refugees follows a model based on the following three pillars:
- Employment integration
- Humanitarian aid
- Close collaboration with public authorities, external partners and volunteers
In 2016, we joined the German, business-driven integration initiative ‘Wir Zusammen' (‘Us Together’) to steer long-term projects that help refugees find their place in society. Since then, more than 100 refugees have completed an internship at our company, and 28 of them have been hired in temporary or permanent positions in Germany (April 2020). They get insights into our business, retail and logistics endeavors, and receive support for their integration into the European business environment that is key for their future growth. We also offer tuition for language classes as well as intercultural communication, job application training and sports courses.
Likewise, many of our existing NGO partnerships have also led us to help create opportunities and ongoing dedicated support for refugees.
When the situation in Europe – especially in Germany – became increasingly severe in 2015, the Executive Board took action, donating, on top of our regular donations, to several initiatives and programs including the SOS Children’s Villages, the refugee aid program in our hometown Herzogenaurach as well as our own company-driven refugee aid activities. Then, in 2016 and 2017, we continued our approach supporting refugee camps and programs in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Iraq and along the Balkan route as well as continued donations to the SOS Children’s Villages’ emergency relief efforts in Syria. Presently, we are also financially supporting a summer school project for Syrian children in refugee camps in Sanliurfa in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Youth and Sports, aiming at enabling around 2,000 children to spend their summer holiday improving mental, physical and social skills.
In Germany, we supported a Save the Children’s pilot project in Berlin, using psychological first-aid to support integration in schools: 77 local caregivers were trained on causes and symptoms of behavioral disorders and were enabled to apply suitable methods of psychosocial care to children, benefiting about 3,500 children.
In Turkey, refugees have been looking for work without proper ID cards, passports and work permits, and are struggling to find meaningful, registered and insured employment. We took a strong position on the situation by joining with other member brands of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Ethical Trading Initiative and Fair Wear Foundation and co-signing a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, which called on the government to address the work integration of refugees and create a legal basis for employment and sustainable improvement of their circumstances. We were thus pleased that the Turkish government published the ‘Regulation on Work Permits of Foreigners Under Temporary Protection’ in January 2016, allowing many of the 2.5 million Syrian refugees to apply for work permits.
Furthermore, in 2017, we created and distributed 10,000 posters to fight child labor and increase awareness of the hotline established by the Turkish Ministry of Labor to support employees in case of any issues. We have extended our risk management to lower tiers of our supply chain in Turkey, and have established an external bilingual worker hotline in Arabic and Turkish where employees can raise their complaints and suggestions.
Despite the universally known benefits of fitness, factors such as time constraints and budget cuts have slowly decreased or eliminated physical activity from children’s daily schedules. Lack of exercise can lead to chronic issues like diabetes, heart disease, etc. But beyond the physical benefits, numerous studies give compelling evidence that moderate to vigorous physical activity stimulates brain function. This aids in improved memory and cognitive ability. Therefore, promoting healthy habits at a young age is essential to a path for a healthy life.
To foster these benefits, Reebok introduced the BOKS Program in 2009, an initiative of Reebok and the Reebok Foundation, and the company’s major social purpose initiative. BOKS is an innovative, before-school physical activity program with a mission to bring access to fitness to children between the ages of 5 and 12. It provides free curriculum, training and support. All it takes is dedicated champions of change who want to volunteer their time to get the program up and going. In some underserved areas that can’t find a volunteer, BOKS helps find staff and minor funding to get the program running. By the end of 2019, we increased the number of BOKS schools to 5,500 (2018: 4,200).
BOKS gives children the opportunity to get moving for an hour before school, boosting their overall confidence, well-being and academic and physical performance. BOKS classes include fun warm-up activities, running, team-oriented games and BOKS Bits, which are nutritional talks incorporated into each class. This increased physical activity helps prepare the brain for a day of learning. The curriculum also has BOKS Bursts, which are three-minute workout breaks that teachers can use throughout the school day. The program typically runs two to three mornings a week, before the start of the school day, with class sizes that range from 40 to 100 children.
BOKS’ impact has been measured and evaluated by an independent evaluator, NIOST (National Institute on Out-of-School Time), which conducted a three-year study of BOKS in the Natick schools in Massachusetts. NIOST reported that the program had not only improved students’ memory and executive function, but also shaved an average of 16 seconds off their 400-meter run times. Another study, authored by Quincy College Exercise Science Director Wayne Westcott and published in the Journal of Exercise, Sports & Orthopedics, showed that students in Weymouth got fitter and healthier after three 50-minute sessions a week for nine weeks. Furthermore, BOKS began a long-term study with Harvard Medical School and is working with multiple children in the school districts south of Boston, Massachusetts. BOKS takes pride in having an adaptive approach, with innovative, real-time improvements made to the program in response to the information collected.
The Reebok Foundation focuses its philanthropy on the BOKS program and also on charitable programs in communities where Reebok offices are located, with special emphasis on the Greater Boston area. The Foundation promotes social and economic equality by funding non-profit organizations that help empower youth to fulfill their potential and lead healthy, happy and active lives.
GAiN supports humanitarian aid projects in over 50 crisis areas worldwide and is constantly striving to improve their global logistics network in order to provide help as quickly and efficiently as possible. We regularly support their humanitarian efforts with product donations and to date have impacted communities in Armenia, Iraq, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Togo, Uganda and Ukraine. In some of these countries, the organization is also running the program ‘Sport Aid’, which not only distributes equipment, but also trains local staff and builds sports grounds and playing fields. We are financially supporting the construction of these sports facilities in Armenia, Nigeria and Uganda.
Lebenshilfe Erlangen-Höchstadt e.V. campaigns for the well-being and rights of people with disabilities. The partnership agreement signed with adidas in 2010 creates the framework for the long-term project ‘Together for strong personalities’. Through this project, we enable financially deprived people with disabilities to participate in leisure activities and to enjoy learning opportunities, empowering those with disabilities to develop their creative potential and grow an inclusive community around them.
The basic idea of Luftfahrt ohne Grenzen (Wings of Help) is simple yet powerful: available air transport capacity is utilized to distribute aid resources throughout the world – even to the most remote locations. In the past, adidas and Wings of Help have brought relief goods to such places as Romania and Russia, to service homes for blind and deaf children, Israel, to benefit a refugee camp for Ethiopian people, and South Africa, to assist a home for AIDS-infected children.
In addition to such relief efforts, adidas has donated football equipment to support the ‘Kick the ball and play together’ project in Myanmar. The products were distributed across Myanmar to over 90 schools and sports clubs, with ongoing tournaments aimed at increasing understanding and acceptance of different religions and ethnic groups via football’s fair play principles.
Since 2012, we have specifically supported Syrian refugees displaced in Turkey through Wings of Help deliveries of critical emergency goods such as mattresses, blankets and winter clothing. This expanded to include organized relief convoys to Iraq as well as to refugee camps in Europe and along the Balkan route to deliver food and clothing including adidas apparel and footwear.
ora Kinderhilfe (‘ora Child Aid’) aims to help children, families and their communities in ten countries across four continents, concentrating on child-focused community development. We support ora Kinderhilfe with regular product donations for distribution to welfare and daycare centers through their programs in African and Eastern European countries. These centers service people living in poverty as well as small communities in remote areas. ora’s beneficiaries include more than 200 children in Moldavia, more than 300 children in Romania and over 100 children in Albania. Each child receives access to healthy nutrition, local school visitations and medical treatment. Support extends beyond the children themselves to their families and local communities by providing them with care packages and opportunities for economic development.
We have been supporting Save the Children in emergency relief projects since 2008. Save the Children follows the mission “to deliver immediate and lasting improvements to children’s lives in more than 120 countries worldwide”. In keeping with these words, Save the Children responded to the refugee situation in Germany. It was one of the first organizations to set up professionally supervised, child-friendly spaces for refugee children in Berlin. Thanks to our support, among others, by April 2016 the operation of four child-friendly spaces (in all hangars of the former airport Tempelhof Berlin) reached approximately 90% of the core target group (0 to 13-year-olds).
In 2017 and 2018, we supported their humanitarian relief efforts for the refugee situation in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Over 671,000 Rohingya (60% children – many unaccompanied) have fled to Bangladesh due to escalating violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. As a result, Save the Children was able to scale up their relief work quickly with the focus on food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as shelter, education in emergencies and child protection.
Additionally, we co-funded the Save the Children Academy which carried out a pilot project regarding psychosocial support and psychological first aid. In September 2016, over 10,000 refugee children were enrolled in German schools. Due to their experiences during war and flight, the children, their teachers and parents are faced with a huge range of challenges. Save the Children created professional training for caregivers and teachers, reaching 77 educational professionals and indirectly over 3,500 children in Berlin.
“Long-term and trusted partners like adidas help us to act quicker and thus save even more children’s lives when disasters happen. Save the Children says a huge ‘Thank you’. You really help us in making a difference!” said Susanna Krüger, CEO of Save the Children e.V.
Since its founding in 1949, SOS Children’s Villages has grown into one of the largest non-governmental organizations, dedicated to supporting children without parental care and families at risk around the globe. In response to the needs of displaced refugees, we financially supported the second SOS Children’s Village in Damascus, which opened in October 2017 and offers a safe home for 150 children. We also co-funded the program, ‘Children on the Move’, which provides shelter, care and protection to unaccompanied children and young people in Europe.
Terre des Hommes (‘Earth of Humanity’) is an international children’s aid organization whose projects we’ve backed, such as offering psychosocial support to children in Iraqi refugee camps, which counted around 1,500 children as recipients. Terre des Hommes is working to establish a mental health care system with the goal to connect 5,000 young people in four refugee camps and five communities in Erbil and Dohuk with these services.
Together, we also co-financed a project in Lebanon to improve psychosocial care and food security for Syrian, Palestinian and marginalized Lebanese youth. The focus was to prepare the first level of training for local, mental health professionals to improve psychosocial support services and psychotherapy. The trained staff apply their skills in public health centers throughout Lebanon. Now in 2018, the organization is continuing its local psychosocial support training as well as working to address emotional distress in other ways like music workshops.
We signed a three-year partnership with China’s Ministry of Education (MoE) starting in June 2015 and ending in June 2018 to promote grassroots football in China and nurture football talent based on our shared vision of accelerating football development. Then in July 2018, based on the program’s success, we extended the partnership for another three years. The partnership focuses on supporting China’s physical education classes, teacher trainings and student training camps through our curriculum, ambassadors and products.
Thus far, we have donated adidas footballs to over 3,700 schools nationwide, benefiting 3.7 million students. We also supported 17,600 teachers during the MoE PE teacher training. adidas winter and summer camp initiatives reached roughly 3,030 of China’s most promising students. Our support also extends to the MoE’s ‘New Long March of School Football’ program. Broadcast daily now, this new 365-episode TV series is reaching eight million viewers, most of them PE teachers, daily across China. It features Tom Byer teaching various technical moves from the adidas curriculum. And finally, we hosted several MoE activations to which we invited key football assets such as David Beckham and Paul Pogba to coach children in their training.
Our MoE program reached a historic moment when Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited a Chinese youth training camp in Berlin in early July 2017. The training camp was the first-ever collaboration between adidas, China’s MoE and the German Football Association (DFB).
For decades, Sialkot has been the manufacturing base for suppliers of hand-stitched balls to many well-known international brands, including adidas. But with the market demand shifting to machine-based stitching, many manufacturers had to scale down or close completely, which left female workers jobless with little chance of new employment due to lack of skills as well as social and cultural barriers. As part of our ongoing engagement to protect the vulnerable groups involved in the global apparel and footwear manufacturing industries, including promotion of the rights of female workers, we initiated a project called ‘Women’s Empowerment Program’. The project kicked off in September 2015 with two objectives:
- Improve the knowledge and skills of the redundant female workers to earn income and find new employment.
- Help female workers at our suppliers to have better opportunities in the workplace.
In order to have the biggest positive impact on the local communities, we found the perfect expertise and experience in our local partner, the NGO Baidarie. Through activities that enhance the women’s skillset and position them to take initiative in micro-entrepreneurship development, our partnership aims to improve the lives of 1,000 female workers in the Sialkot area. Since its start in 2015, the program has benefited more than 420 on-job women and women workers who were laid off from jobs in the football manufacturing sector.
COMMUNITY AFFAIRS STATISTICS
In 2019, donation request declined by 17% to 4,867 compared to 2018 (2018: 5,839). In general, donation or funding requests significantly varied in nature and purpose. Incoming requests were carefully reviewed against the adidas Corporate Giving Guidelines to ensure alignment with corporate policies, procedures and the available budget framework.
The total number of supported projects remained with 519 relatively stable in 2019 (2018: 525). The decrease in fewer projects supported in EMEA region reflects our more stringent approach in conducting needs assessments based on clear internal definitions. This in turn helped us to continuously focus on key projects with fewer but more impactful organisations.
The amount of product donations significantly grew to more than 1 million units (2018: 521,487). This can be attributed to extensive product donations in North America. In the EMEA region, we provided major volumes of product donations to support people in severe need, for example refugees in various refugee camps all over Europe and Iraq.
Compared to 2018, we saw a decline of volunteer hours of our global workforce by 19% to 45,318, most notably in the North America and EMEA regions. This was caused by the restructuring of the employee engagement program.
With our data tracking system, we aim to fully cover activities from all subsidiaries worldwide. We are constantly reviewing our approach and the system to improve data quality.
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