We recognize that we have a responsibility to respect human rights and the importance of showing that we are taking the necessary steps to fulfil this social obligation. We strive to operate responsibly along the entire value chain; by safeguarding the rights of our own employees and those of the workers who manufacture our products through our Labor Rights Charter and ‘Workplace Standards’; and by applying our influence to affect change wherever human rights issues are linked to our business activities.
Since its conception in 1997, our human and labor rights program has been built on the back of intense stakeholder outreach and engagement: seeking to understand and define the most salient issues to address as a company. Through those engagements we have identified the following as salient issues for our human rights program and the focus for our human rights due diligence efforts: freedom of association and collective bargaining, working hours, health and safety, fair wages, child labor, forced labor, resource consumption, water (including chemical management), access to grievance mechanisms, diversity, mega sporting events, procurement, product safety, as well as data protection and privacy security.
Recent highlights from our work include the launch of our modern slavery outreach program, the publication of our approach to support human rights defenders, our participation in a pilot to create an international corporate human rights benchmark for business globally and our ongoing disclosure of cases received through our third-party complaints mechanism, which is part of our long-standing approach to transparency and accountability. Our work has been awarded with leadership positions in the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark and the Know the Chain ranking, recognizing our efforts in managing human rights across our operations, as well as eradicating forced labor and human trafficking from our supply chains.
As part of our broader risk management processes, we will increase the scope and application of Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD) efforts. By 2025, we aim to have a system in place to identify and manage high risk human rights issues across the entirety of our value chain.
Core to adidas’ human rights approach is our commitment to ensuring fair labor practices, fair compensation and safe working conditions in factories throughout its global supply chain. Our efforts are guided by the adidas Workplace Standards, our supply chain code of conduct. We regularly rate factories on their ability to comply with these standards by means of conducting announced and unannounced audits through adidas personnel or an approved external auditor. According to the results, our Sourcing and Social & Environmental Affairs (SEA) teams jointly decide on the course of action, ranging from the definition of training needs or other improvements at factories, to enforcement mechanisms such as sending warning letters or even terminating contracts. Any cases of non-compliance identified during audits are given a certain time frame for remediation.
Human rights due diligence
Given the scale and complexity of our value chain – with goods sourced from more than 50 countries globally and sold in over 100 markets – it is not practical to conduct human rights impact assessments continuously across all entities linked to our products or operations. We have therefore developed a due diligence approach that targets high-risk locations, processes or activities that require the closest attention and where we are able to apply influence to mitigate or remediate issues, where they occur. We also seek to extend our reach by cascading responsibilities to our partners, to capture and address potential and actual human rights issues - both upstream and downstream of our product creation. Finally, to complement these processes, we have put in place dedicated third-party grievance channels to tackle complaints.
In 2014, adidas established a third-party complaints mechanism. As part of this mechanism, at the end of each year, we have committed, at the end of each year, to communicate, via our corporate website, how many third-party complaints it has received related to labor or human rights violations and the status of those complaints (i.e. being investigated, successfully resolved, etc.). The files below provide an overview and analysis of the third-party complaints received each year since 2014, and brief summaries of the individual cases. The majority of these complaints have been received from trade unions and labor and human rights advocacy groups. They are distinct from complaints received directly from workers through worker hotlines and other grievance channels operated in the countries where we source product.
For a summary of the complaint process, please click here: > English version > Spanish version > Portuguese version > Turkish version > Chinese version > Khmer version > Thai Version > Vietnamese version > Indonesian version > Japanese version
Human rights defenders
A human rights defender (HRD) can be any person or group of persons working to promote human rights locally, regionally or internationally. Defenders can be of any gender, any age, from any part of the world and with different backgrounds and different interests. Typically, trade union organizers, environmental interest groups, human rights campaigners and labor rights advocates would be considered to be HRDs. The threats faced by HRDs come in many forms – physical, psychological, economic and social – and be manifested in many quises- such aspoor governance, the absence of the rule of law, intolerance, tensions over development issues.
adidas has a long-standing policy of non-interference with the activities of HRDs, including those who actively campaign on issues that may be linked to our business operations. We expect our business partners to follow the same policy; they should not impinge on the lawful actions of an HRD, or on their freedom of expression, freedom of association or right to peaceful assembly.
adidas strictly prohibits the use of any form of forced labor or the trafficking in persons across all of our company operations and in our global supply chain. We treat forced labor, human trafficking and slavery with a zero-tolerance approach. Business relationships can be impacted if such issues are found and can lead to enforcement action, warning letters and, if timely remedies are not offered, to the termination of contracts.
Since the initiation of our robust social compliance and labor rights program founded at the end of the 1990s, we have been systematically addressing the risks associated with forced labor, child labor and migrant labor. In 2016, we launched the modern slavery outreach program to cover those tiers that fall outside the existing mainstream social compliance and labor rights program, including our Tier 2 processing facilities and Tier 3 raw material sources.
Our approach to managing and eradicating forced labor from our operations include the implementation of our Modern Slavery Policy (first published in 2010), which ensures a tailored, risk based due-diligence process, risk assessment, regular monitoring activities and performance measurements as well as designing and delivering targeted training and capacity building. Since 2017, we have focused our efforts on implementing a recruitment approach that ensures migrant workers retain control of their travel documents, have freedom of movement and are free from debt-bondage and other unacceptable financial costs.
Modern slavery and human trafficking
In the absence of a legal definition for modern slavery, adidas defines it as the risks posed by forced labor, prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor, debt servitude, state-imposed forced labor and human trafficking, where coercion, threats or deception are used to intimidate, penalize or deceive workers, thereby creating situations of involuntary work and exploitation. It is estimated that there are 40.3 million victims of modern slavery in the world. Of these, 24.9 million people are in forced labor and 15.4 million in forced marriage. There are more females (71%) than males (29%) in modern slavery. Where people have migrated for economic reasons, women are particularly vulnerable to the risks of slavery-like practices.
To address these issues, we have been working closely – and progressively – with our supply chain business partners beyond our Tier 1 in high-risk locations, providing them with the guidance to identify and remedy unscrupulous employment practices. We have also conducted assessments of our Tier 3 raw material supply chain, to identify and address risks of modern slavery and use an external benchmark managed by the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark amongst others, to track our performance and programs in relation to our industry peers.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) Forced Labour Convention No. 29 defines forced labor as “work or service exacted from a person under threat of any penalty, which includes penal sanctions and the loss of rights and privileges, where the person has not offered themselves voluntarily.” In accordance with our Workplace Standards, business partners must not use forced labor, whether in the form of prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor or otherwise. No employee may be compelled to work through force or intimidation of any form, or as a means of political coercion or as punishment for holding or expressing political views.
Click here to access our Modern Slavery Policy, as well as our Policy on responsible recruitment.
Below you can find detailed summaries about our activities per year.
The summary below presents recent key actions and progress to date.
2018: We published our Responsible Recruitment Policy which outlines our commitment to eliminating the practice of workers paying recruitment fees to secure their employment. The policy draws on the guidance we previously published in our Employment Standards Guidelines in 2010. We extended the reach of our modern slavery and forced labor training to include Tier 2 suppliers in South Korea. We conducted peer-to-peer learning workshops for all previously trained suppliers to refresh their knowledge of the issue and discuss process and program improvements. A self-assessment tool was administered to all suppliers with the aim of garnering migrant labor related data across tiers and regions, globally. The information provided by suppliers on their hiring practices for foreign migrant workers ranged from information related to the labor brokers in the sending countries to the type of expenses incurred by the workers for their jobs. As an outcome of this risk assessment exercise we defined a program plan toward supplier compliance in implementing responsible and transparent recruitment practices. We participated in a multi-stakeholder event hosted by ASOS and the British High Commission to Mauritius to discuss the challenges in managing labor migration and agreed a common framework for improving worker protection in Mauritius and beyond. We pledged our support to the joint American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and FLA industry pledge, committing to working with our suppliers to ensure: (a) No worker pays for their job; (b) Workers retain control of their travel documents and have full freedom of movement; (c) All workers are informed of the basic terms of their employment before leaving home. adidas joined a member-only brand collaboration group comprising of seven leading apparel and footwear brands with a particular focus on Taiwan, a high-risk country for foreign migrant labor. With the shared goal of ensuring no worker pays for a job and has full freedom of movement, the brands have set individual and joint targets working together with shared suppliers to develop responsible recruitment systems while streamlining communication amongst customers and buyers. We signed a formal partnership with the International Organisation for Migration that focuses on the importance of implementing the employer-pays-principle and improving access to remedy in cases where migrant workers’ rights are breached, particularly with regard to recruitment fees.
2017: We partnered with the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) program to develop a modern slavery and forced labor training toolkit embedded in adidas Workplace Standards and Employment Guidelines for our Tier 2 supply chain partners. An internal memo outlining our commitment to eliminating all forms of forced labor including debt-bondage was sent to all business partners globally. Close to 100 Tier 2 suppliers including knitting, spinning, tanneries, dye-houses, fabric mills, packaging and other processing facilities across Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Taiwan were given targeted training to influence ethical employment practices. We also provided them with the guidance to identify and remedy unscrupulous employment practices. We focused our efforts on the recruitment process involving foreign migrant workers by conducting on-site investigations including interviewing migrant workers and hiring agency officials in Vietnam to get first-hand information on the hiring process and the costs involved.
2016: In Brazil, more than 45 audits focusing on potential presence of forced labor were conducted at Tier 1 and Tier 2. No instances of forced labor were found. Copies of the audit findings were shared with the Brazilian authorities. We completed a risk-based assessment of our extended supply chain, focusing on Tier 2 processing and Tier 3 natural material sources to identify potential risks of modern slavery including debt bondage at the various tiers. We then researched tailored initiatives and strategies to prevent and mitigate these risks. In alignment with our focus on providing tailored training for Tier 2 suppliers, we partnered with an international agency to train 50 of our key Tier 2 China and Taiwan based suppliers on the risks of forced labor and debt-bondage. Having identified China and Taiwan as a high-risk locations for forced labor in our risk mapping exercise, the training focused on migrant labor employment guidelines and best practices as well as relevant national and international labor laws. We updated our guidelines on the recruitment and treatment of migrant labor and to reflect zero recruitment fees and to simplify and strengthen our communication to suppliers.
2015: At our annual Global Supplier Summit we announced the launch of our Modern Slavery Outreach program, calling on our strategic Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers to help us tackle the risk of human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage and child labor across our extended supply chain. We completed training for our manufacturing and materials supply chain partners in Taiwan, highlighting the risks of bonded labor, passport retention and the burden of recruitment fees as it impacts the rights of migrant workers. We have run similar training sessions in previous years in Thailand, Malaysia and Japan.
The United Kingdom’s Modern Slavery Act seeks to address the role of businesses in preventing slavery and human trafficking from occurring in their business operations and supply chains. We are confident in the steps adidas has taken to combat slavery and human trafficking, which are described in our Modern Slavery Act Transparency Statement and supporting documents.