We recognize that we have a responsibility to respect human rights and understand 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, and by applying our influence to affect change wherever we cause or contribute to human rights impacts, or where human rights issues are linked to our business activities.
For over 25 years, our human and labor rights program has been focused on delivering on this commitment through the application of an ongoing Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD) strategy and process to identify, address, evaluate, and communicate the risks of involvement with adverse human rights and environmental impacts through our own operations, products, or services, or via our business relationships. We continue to adapt our approach, as both our understanding of risks as well as the expectations of stakeholders and regulators keeps evolving. As part of our broader risk management processes, we will increase the scope and application of HREDD efforts. By 2025, we aim to have a system in place to identify and manage high-risk human rights issues across our entire value chain.
Based on our decades-long experience in conducting human rights due diligence within our supply chain, adidas complies with the requirement to identify, address, and report on human rights-related and environmental risks, as defined in the German Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettensorgfaltpflichtengesetz - LkSG).
Our commitment to protecting human rights
Our Human Rights Policy, launched in 2022, supports our commitment to human rights. Endorsed by adidas’ Executive Board, the policy articulates our expectations of our own employees and our business partners to embed respect for human rights across our business operations. We have engaged in extensive consultation in the development of this policy, involving a wide range of internal stakeholders, including key business functions and employee representatives, as well as external stakeholders, civil society, and business and human rights experts. Stakeholder feedback has informed the content of the policy, the measures taken to support its implementation, and has further enhanced our understanding of the most salient issues to address as a company.
In addition to core policies and standards which are referenced within the Human Rights Policy, our commitment to respecting human rights and operating responsibly in all areas of our business is embedded in the following documents.
All of these policies can be found following this link.
- Modern Slavery Policy Framework and strategy implementation: 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. Our approach to managing and eradicating forced labor from our operations includes the implementation of our Modern Slavery Strategy (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.
- Responsible Recruitment Policy: 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. We are committed to eliminating the practice of migrant workers paying recruitment costs and fees to secure their employment. We support the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity to enhance respect for the rights of migrant workers from the moment of recruitment, during employment and through to further employment or safe return.
- Responsible Sourcing & Purchasing Policy: We are committed to working with our business partners, across our global and multi-layered supply chain, to ensure that sourcing and purchasing decisions, and other supporting processes, do not impede or conflict with the fulfillment of the adidas Workplace Standards.
- Workplace Standards: Our supply chain efforts are guided by the adidas Workplace Standards, our supply chain code of conduct, and supported by a multi-level monitoring and enforcement process. We expect our business partners to cascade the responsibility to respect human rights and uphold the Workplace Standards across their own supply chains. More information on our supply chain approach can be found here.
- Human Rights Defenders Policy: 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 guises – such as poor 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.
Accountability for human rights
While responsibility for respecting human rights and fulfilling our policy commitments lies with every adidas employee, the adidas Executive Board is ultimately responsible and accountable for the overall strategic direction of the business, and decides on adidas’ approach to, and processes for respecting human rights. The adidas Executive Board assigns the operational responsibility for the implementation of our Human Rights Policy to adidas’ General Counsel, who fulfils the role of Human Rights Officer (HRO). The HRO is responsible for monitoring human rights and environmental risk management processes and reporting regularly on these to the Executive Board. Nominated ‘risk owners’ in relevant internal functions are accountable for managing human rights and environmental risks in their respective area of operational responsibility, encompassing our own operations and supply chain. This includes carrying out annual risk analyses, the implementation of risk prevention and mitigation measures, and reporting on the outcome of these measures to the HRO.
Awareness of human rights in our business
We recognize the need to raise awareness among our employees on their responsibility to respect human rights and how to identify potential or actual human rights issues. All new employees are given induction training to familiarize them with adidas policies and procedures, including the Human Rights Policy. Within adidas, familiarity with the requirements of the company’s Fair Play (ethical business) code of conduct is mandatory. All employees must participate in and pass online training on the code.
Identifying and prioritizing human rights and environmental risks
Since its inception 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 and environmental due diligence efforts: labor rights, wages, discrimination and harassment, freedom of association and collective bargaining, occupational health and safety, child labor, forced labor and human trafficking, the environment, including climate change, water, the use of hazardous chemicals, and waste, privacy, corruption, and sports sponsorship.
Given the scale and complexity of our value chain – with goods sourced from more than 40 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 recognize that although everyone's human rights and fundmental freedoms must be respected and upheld, particular attention must be given to vulnerable groups, minorities or indigenous groups, or those whose circumstances open them up to exploitation or the abuse of their rights.
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.
Preventing and mitigating adverse impacts
The strategies applied to preventing and mitigating issues will be dependent on the relationship between adidas and the source of the risk, the severity of the issue, and our ability to influence the party directly responsible. Although we recognize the need to address all salient human rights issues we have identified, as our influence and ability to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts is greatest with our business partners, we have focused our efforts on fair labor practices, fair compensation and safe working conditions in factories manufacturing on behalf of adidas.
In our own operations, as a company managing around 60,000 employees, we have established standards and rules that specify the company’s responsibilities towards respecting the human rights of our global workforce. Through the policies and procedures of our Human Resources department, along with other relevant functions, internal systems are in place to protect employee rights and entitlements, and compliance with the core policies are regularly monitored by the Corporate Internal Audit function. More information on our approach to own operations, including initiatives focusing on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, can be found here.
Access to Remedy
We are committed to providing for, or cooperating in, the remediation of adverse human rights impacts which we have caused or contributed to, and we will seek to promote or cooperate in the mitigation and remediation of adverse impacts where we are linked to these through our business relationships. To complement our due diligence processes, we have put in place a range of grievance channels to ensure we provide adequate access to remedy for affected parties.
Our third-party complaints mechanism, established in 2014, offers a channel for the reporting of any potential, or actual, human rights or environmental harm linked to adidas’s operations, products or services, and is open to any individual or organization directly affected by an issue, or any organization which represents individuals or communities directly affected.
Description of third party complaint process
Disclosure of complaints received and actions taken
As part of the third-party complaint mechanism, at the end of each year we have committed 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 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.
- Cases received and actions taken: 2022 - 2021 - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014
- Case analysis: 2022 - 2021
- Overview of case analyses: 2014 - 2018
Suppliers to adidas are required to have grievance systems in place where workers can freely and – should they decide to – anonymously submit any complaints or suggestions they may have. Workers in the supply chain may also raise concerns or complaints directly with adidas via local hotlines, which are run by non-profit organizations or our own field staff. In addition, we deploy a digital, app-based operational grievance mechanism at all our strategic supplier sites. Over 600,000 workers employed in more than 120 manufacturing facilities across 17 countries have access to this digital system, reflecting a 100% coverage of strategic manufacturing partners.
In our own operations, the global Fair Play Hotline enables our employees to submit complaints anonymously. Cases of complaints or of non-compliance are tracked with the support of a network of compliance officers worldwide.
We recognize the value of information received through all these grievance channels in informing our due diligence processes and the development of effective remedies. Wherever relevant, we utilize such information, and the experience gained through managing complaints processes, to support the implementation of improvements in our own practices, prevention, or remedial efforts.
Disclosure of our human rights progress and performance
We are committed to transparency and disclosure of our human rights progress and performance through external stakeholder engagement, regular communication, and reporting:
- We are transparent about our stakeholder engagement: Engaging openly with stakeholders is a fundamental part of our approach to human rights and sustainability more broadly. More information on this engagement can be found here.
- We regularly disclose material, third-party audited information: Our reporting on our human rights work is integrated into the adidas Annual Report. For more information, including an archive of our Sustainability reports, see here.
- We receive external recognition: Our transparency and disclosure have 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.
- We are thought leaders: We also developed a summary of our key approaches and positions on human rights topics in our Human Rights Frequently Asked Questions to explain the adidas’ approach to integrating human rights into its business practices. This FAQ summary has been reproduced in several languages as an industry best practice by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), a non-profit organization which draws attention to the human rights impacts of business.
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. To complement our labor and human rights monitoring program, which has been in place for over 20 years, we launched the modern slavery outreach program in 2016 to intensify our efforts on potential risks in the upstream supply chain, looking beyond our Tier 1 suppliers, to drive greater transparency in the extended supply chain. We report annually on the actions we have taken to assess and address potential risks associated with modern slavery and forced labor in our supply chain through our Modern Slavery Progress Reports.
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.