We strongly believe that diversity, inclusion, and equality are key to the success of our company. To be the best sports brand in the world, we need the best diverse talent that reflects the diversity of our customers and consumers. We celebrate this diversity as it helps us better serve the communities we work in, while also providing a competitive business advantage.
United against racism – our commitments
We have always been and will always be against discrimination in all forms and stand united against racism. To emphasize this principle, we shared a list of global commitments in June 2020. They describe how we aim to contribute to creating lasting change. The commitments include, among others, investing $ 120 million in the US toward ending racism and supporting Black communities through to 2025, and funding 50 university scholarships in the US each year for Black and LatinX students. We also set new targets for increased representation of Black and LatinX people within our US workforce. Our aim is to fill at least 30% of all new positions in the US with Black and LatinX people. The commitments further encompass establishing a global committee to accelerate inclusion and equality, strengthening our global anti-discrimination and non-retaliation policy, reforming our hiring and career development processes, signing the Juneteenth Pledge, and increasing support for BIPoC communities.
We already took action on several of these commitments in the latter half of 2020:
- We funded scholarship programs for Black and LatinX students and made an initial contribution to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as part of singer and adidas partner Beyoncé’s ‘BeyGOOD’ fund to support Black-owned small businesses.
- The ‘Committee to Accelerate Inclusion & Equality’ has been put in operation. Sponsored by adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted, it focuses on the advancement of underrepresented groups and drives companywide change. The committee includes company decision makers as well as representatives from all adidas regions and people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
- Our talent acquisition and key talent management processes are currently under review to validate opportunities to further strengthen our inclusive talent processes for hiring, talent management and succession decisions.
- We updated our ‘Global Policy on Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination’ in September. The framework details how adidas prevents, detects, and responds to all forms of discrimination and harassment with very clear messaging on our zero-tolerance approach.
Furthermore, we provided our employees with a platform on our intranet to support and promote dialogue around our anti-racism and anti-discrimination work. Throughout the company, we continue to support and grow our ‘Employee Resource Groups’ – these are specific networks that give employees from various walks of life a voice and serves members by fostering a diverse inclusive workplace. We now have more than 40 of these groups around the globe with different focuses on diversity dimensions such as People of Color, Women, LGBTQ+, Experienced Generation, Faith, and Disability and Mental Health. Participation in the groups is voluntary and open to all employees.
Diversity & inclusion framework
In 2020, we redefined our framework for diversity and inclusion with a clear definition of what diversity and inclusion mean to us as a company: They mean championing individual uniqueness and cultivating a culture of belonging so that everyone can create at their best. The framework highlights our approach both internally and externally which is why we defined three strategic focus areas:
- Workplace: We want to create a work environment where all employees feel like they belong, are valued and are engaged to produce exceptional results.
- Workforce: We want to attract, recruit, promote, and retain the best talent and maintain a diverse workforce at all levels and areas of the business.
- Marketplace: We want to represent the diverse communities we serve through our communications, products, partnerships, and investments.
As part of the three focus areas, we have made global internal commitments to promote inclusion and equality at adidas. These commitments are supported by specific actions with clear timelines, and progress is communicated internally. This action plan underpins our stance against discrimination and microaggressions.
One of the commitments we made was the introduction of a global anti-racism and unconscious-bias training – the ‘Creating a Culture of Inclusion (CCI) Team Workout’. The training, which was mandatory for all employees, was rolled out globally in the third quarter of 2020 and completed in early 2021. The program consisted of six modules which focused on topics such as diversity dimensions, privilege, and inclusive team behaviors. The content was aimed at educating teams on diversity and inclusion topics that may impact performance and the sense of belonging, both individually and as a team.
In addition, we held a virtual ‘Global Day of Inclusion’ in September 2020, which offered employees an opportunity to reflect, learn, and celebrate inclusion. This initiative has now become an annual event to emphasize our commitment.
We are convinced that mixed leadership teams have a competitive advantage and are drivers of business success. adidas is committed to ensuring equitable representation across all diversity dimensions in leadership positions, which includes enhancing our current focus on gender equality. A prerequisite for increasing the number of women at the highest levels of management is the general promotion of women within the company worldwide at all levels. We have various initiatives in place to guarantee that our succession pipeline is balanced, including mentoring of female talent as well as an equal gender split in our Global and Local High Potential programs.
By the end of 2020, the company had recorded a total of 35% of women globally in management positions (2019: 34%), exceeding the 2020 target of 32%. Our ambition is to further increase the share of women in leadership positions globally from 2021 onward. Pursuant to the German Law on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Private and Public Sector, the adidas AG Supervisory Board determined target figures for the percentage of female representation on the Executive Board, including corresponding deadlines for their achievement. The Executive Board determined such target figures for the first two management levels below the Executive Board, including deadlines for their achievement, for adidas AG.
We support our employees by aiming to provide the best possible conditions to ensure that they feel good and stay healthy. Our holistic approach includes people’s physical, mental, and social well-being, and focuses on four pillars: mindset, nutrition, movement and medical services. We provide employees access to various sports activities and facilities. Also, lockers and showers in many office buildings allow people to run or cycle to work. Employees in Herzogenaurach, Portland, Boston, Moscow, Gurgaon and Manchester, and at other locations across the globe, have access to a corporate gym.
With our strategic partner B.A.D. as an occupational health and safety service, we are able to offer various medical services to our employees that go far beyond the legal requirements of occupational medicine. Two company doctors offer various medical services on-site, such as vaccinations, medical check-ups or ergonomic workplace adjustments. An anonymous and free telephone consultation service is available 24/7 to help our employees in difficult situations. Further we offer personal help from certified psychologists and social pedagogues. Our Integration Management Programme after long-term sickness aims at supporting our employees after a lengthy absence from work.
Navigating through the coronavirus pandemic
Since the beginning of the covid-19 crisis, the safety and well-being of our employees, consumers and partners has been our top priority. In our offices, stores and warehouses around the globe, we have installed a variety of measures to ensure the ongoing safety of our people and limit the risk of infections at the workplace or while traveling. These measures include the extension of our hygiene concepts, the continuous monitoring of the development of the situation, transparent communication to our employees, and the establishment of strict rules of conduct. For example, we have increased workplace flexibility and temporarily given our employees the opportunity to work up to 100% of their time remotely, depending on the development of cases in the respective countries.
- Crisis management team: To be able to monitor and assess the impacts and potential spread of the coronavirus globally, we set up a dedicated Steering Committee in February. The task of this HR-led, cross-functional team is to provide guidance to our markets on emerging issues, standards and company policies to ensure alignment in the response to covid-19. The team also tracks internal covid-19 cases globally, and reports these to the Executive Board. This measure enables us to determine any actions needed at all locations globally. The Steering Committee meets up to three times per week to review employee case numbers, impacts to the business, emerging issues, and review current policies, guidelines and direction to the business and our workforce. Updates are provided to the Executive Board on a regular basis, at least twice per month.
- HR training and alignment: To enable our HR Business Partners to report on cases, conduct contact tracing and manage any employee-related crisis issues, we introduced global trainings for our HR Business Partners. These trainings are repeated as often as necessary to ensure our partners are able to act upon the most recent developments at any time. To create alignment and awareness of new processes or emerging situations in the markets, we have also set up a weekly call for market HR leaders. In this meeting, any employee- and covid-19-related issues are discussed, and decisions are made on necessary actions.
- Retail: In our own-retail stores, hygiene concepts encompass distancing rules and the installation of plexiglass screens. Our retail staff was trained on hygiene measures, contact tracing and case reporting to guarantee sufficient response actions to ensure the safety of all employees and customers. In addition, we created so-called ‘Retail Response Teams’ to ensure the implementation of regulations and standards in our stores.
#MYBEST is the global performance development approach at adidas and is a key enabler of a high-performance culture. The four elements of #MYBEST encourage regular high-quality conversations between the employee and the line manager, provide a framework for regular upward and peer feedback exchange, and ensure goals are set and reviewed quarterly. A formal performance evaluation takes place twice a year*, and development is the focus of every monthly ‘Touch Base’ conversation. The voice of employees is critical in the evolution of #MYBEST. In 2019, the global #MYBEST survey was run for the second year in a row. The results confirmed the positive impact of the previous year’s enhancements and were also used to inform decisions about interventions supporting the full utilization of the #MYBEST approach. In 2020, we ensured that the organization has clarity regarding meaningful performance conversations while navigating the constantly changing environment. We also launched a series of global virtual events to provide practical tips and company best practice examples to all employees on impactful feedback and development conversations. To reduce the risk of potential bias in performance evaluations, we provided tools and guidance for all line managers to use when preparing for their regular Performance Standard conversations.
*Employees in Germany continue to have four evaluations based on the current company agreement.
On December 31, 2020, the company had 62,285 employees (2019: 65,194). Thereof, 7,694 were employed at adidas AG (2019: 7,978). On a full-time equivalent basis, our company had 54,722 employees on December 31, 2020 (2019: 55,819), thereof 6,963 at adidas AG (2019: 7,238). The 2019 employee figures on a headcount as well as full-time equivalent basis were restated due to the inclusion of temporary contracts of up to six months. In 2020, personnel expenses decreased slightly to € 2.483 billion (2019: € 2.720 billion), representing 13% of sales (2019: 12%).
Due to the global presence of the adidas AG, its products and its partners, it is necessary that our employees travel regularly to global destinations worldwide. With the support of an external co-operation partner, we run a Medical and Security Assistance Program to service expatriates and adidas AG employees abroad and on business-related travel.
With the Medical and Security Assistance Program, business travel is safer and risks are more transparent. The provider is on the spot when medical or security-related problems arise while people are travelling. Employees obtain pre-travel services, including information regarding immunization recommendations, travel medicine clinics, passports and visas, local medical facilities and special security precautions concerning their destination. Destination services include telephone medical and security advice, worldwide medication replacement and prescription transfer as well as medical and security evacuation.
The service provider has 24-hour alarm centers, staffed with security advisors and physicians who are trained in emergency and travel medicine. They also have a network of medical clinics globally that provide an international standard of care.
In addition, the travel data collected allows us to pro-actively inform our travelers about upcoming risk warnings, strikes or weather warnings via automatic email or text messages.
The company-wide Major Incident Response Policy sets out procedures and the internal and external communications needed to handle major incidents effectively. Under the lead of Human Resources, the company’s Incident Response team takes the appropriate action to minimize risks for our employees and our business at any time anywhere in the world.
As a company managing 62,285 employees, adidas AG has established standards and rules that specify the company’s responsibilities towards its global workforce.
These rights and rules are defined in the adidas Labor Rights Principles. In turn, employees must comply with the adidas Code of Conduct, which explains their duty to ensure ethical business behavior.
Labor Rights Charter
The Labor Rights Charter demonstrates the company’s commitment to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is the guiding framework for several company-level policies that put our commitment into day-to day practice. These policies are related to issues such as employee recruitment, development, equal opportunities and compensation and benefits.
Please click here to download our Labor Rights Charter.
adidas Code of Conduct
Integrity is one of the core values of adidas AG. All employees are expected to act with fairness and responsibility as well as in compliance with relevant laws and regulations while carrying out their tasks. In order to maintain good corporate governance, we have adopted the adidas Code of Conduct as part of our internal Global Policy Manual.
The Code is the cornerstone of ethical work behavior for our employees. It defines binding rules with respect to legally compliant and ethical behavior towards other employees, business partners and third parties, for handling information – in particular insider information – as well as for dealing with financial matters.
The Code of Conduct is supported with mandatory online training available in ten languages. This ongoing training is aimed at raising awareness of ethical and social behavior, as well as promoting compliance with data protection requirements and other policies. Every new employee is automatically invited to complete the training.
Find out more about the adidas Code of Conduct here.
Complaints and non-compliance
To track complaints or cases of non-compliance, we have established a network of currently 20 compliance officers worldwide. In 2013 we installed a global hotline called ‘Fair Play Hotline’. With the Fair Play Hotline, our employees can submit complaints also anonymously.
Ensuring data protection
Ensuring privacy around data is an important aspect of the company’s compliance program. Our data protection system aims to ensure that personal information is handled, stored and processed according to applicable laws and internal policies globally. All employees are provided with online data protection training, and special training is given to departments that manage sensitive data, such as marketing departments.