Our Approach

Being a sustainable business is about striking a balance between shareholder expectations and the needs and concerns of our employees, consumers, and communities, as well as the workers in our supply chain and the environment. We believe that acting as a responsible company will contribute to lasting economic success.


Our holistic approach to sustainability responds to the challenges that endanger our planet and people. Consequently, sustainability is an integral component of our strategy ‘Own the Game’ and we have a clear roadmap for 2025 and beyond. It tackles the topics that are most material to our business and our stakeholders, and translates our overall sustainability efforts into tangible goals. adidas-group.com/sustainability See Strategy

Material topics

We seek to ensure that we address the topics that are most salient to our business and our stakeholders, and the challenges ahead. To identify these topics, we openly engage with our stakeholders and consider their views and opinions in decisions that shape our day-to-day-operations. In addition, we regularly conduct formal materiality exercises to confirm the selection of our material topics. We use insights gained from past assessments, categorize potential new topics and seek to validate these through in-depth discussions with experts and stakeholders across the entire business. Ultimately, we want to better understand the importance a topic has for our business performance and stakeholders but also gain more visibility about the impact we have on these topics. As a result of this ongoing exercise, tax has emerged as an addition to this list of topics in 2020. 

We also make use of external frameworks to help support our selection of material topics. One of these frameworks is the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which represents a global call to action to promote prosperity for all while protecting the planet. We see a clear correlation between the SDGs and our own commitment to sustainable development and human rights. Consequently, we have been able to link prioritized SDGs with both the environmental priorities related to the selection of materials, manufacturing, use and disposal of our products, and the needs and concerns of people in the adidas value chain.  See Non-Financial Statement

Correlation between UN Sustainable Development Goals and our sustainability roadmap

Correlation between UN Sustainable Development Goals and our sustainability roadmap (SDGs )

Stakeholder dialogue and transparency

Engaging openly with stakeholders and establishing ways to increase transparency and disclosure has long been central to our approach. Our stakeholders are those people or organizations who affect or are affected by our operations, including our employees, consumers, suppliers and their workers, customers, investors, media, governments, and NGOs. The adidas Stakeholder Relations Guideline specifies key principles for the development of stakeholder relations and details the different forms of stakeholder engagement.

adidas participates in a variety of industry associations, multi-stakeholder organizations, and non-profit initiatives. Through these memberships, we work closely with leading companies from different sectors to develop sustainable business approaches and to debate social and environmental topics on a global and local level. We use collaborations and partnerships to build leverage for systemic change in our industry, such as for strengthening chemical management practices and raising standards in the cotton supply chain. In addition, we build awareness, capacity, and knowledge of laws and rights among factory management and workers by partnering with leading providers such as the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Better Factories Cambodia program, as well as with the United Nation’s International Organization for Migration with the objective to ensure that the labor rights of foreign and migrant workers are upheld in the adidas supply chain. adidas-group.com/s/partnerships

Key memberships:

  • Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
  • Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) working group
  • Fashion Pact
  • Leather Working Group (LWG)
  • Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management (AFIRM) working group
  • World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI)
  • Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC)
  • Fair Labor Association (FLA)
  • German government-led Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (‘Textilbündnis’)
  • The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
  • United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action

We believe transparent communication with our stakeholders is critical. For that reason, we regularly disclose information to public-facing social and environmental benchmarks and reporting platforms, and publish important sustainability updates about our work throughout the year on our corporate channels including our corporate website. A key element is the publication of our global supplier factory lists which are updated twice a year. In addition, we disclose the names of the factories of suppliers that process materials for our primary suppliers and subcontractors, where the majority of are carried out.

Governance structure

A robust governance structure ensures timely and direct execution of programs that drive the achievement of our set goals for 2020 as well as of our new set of targets for 2025. The head of Sustainability is responsible for the development, coordination and execution of our sustainability strategy and reports to the member of the Executive Board responsible for Global Operations. He or she also leads the sustainability Sponsor Board, which is composed of senior representatives from Global Brands, Global Operations, Digital, Sales, Finance, Corporate Communication, and other relevant functions across the company. The Sponsor Board ensures cross-functional alignment, transparent end-to-end management and execution of agreed-upon sustainability goals within their functions. This includes rewiewing and signing-off on policies as required. We also maintain a separate compliance function which is operated as the Social & Environmental Affairs Team (SEA) to evaluate supplier-facing social and environmental compliance performance and human rights impacts, reporting, through the General Counsel, to the CEO.

External recognition

adidas continuously receives positive recognition from international institutions, rating agencies, NGOs and socially responsible investment analysts for its sustainability initiatives. In 2020, the company was again represented in high-profile sustainability indices and subject to comprehensive corporate sustainability assessments. See Our Share

In the annual assessment of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), adidas was again awarded with a B score for its climate change approach (2019: B), and for its approach to water management (2019: B) and an A-score for its supplier engagement approach related to climate change (assessed through the Supplier Engagement Rating). In the annual Green Supply Chain Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI), which assesses brands on the environmental management of their supply chains in China, adidas ranked number four in the textile industry with its green supply chain program in China, and achieved first place in the newly added Supply Chain Climate Action Index (SCTI), sharing the position with another company. adidas further maintained its leadership position in the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) evaluation in 2020, coming in first in our industry and fourth overall across all industries assessed.  adidas-group.com/s/recognition

Wet processes

Wet processes are defined as water-intense processes, such as dyeing and finishing of materials.

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