Consumers have high expectations towards big brands such as adidas when it comes to their sustainability efforts. These expectations are additional motivation for the entire team to work hard on improving our products and processes. Therefore it is always very nice to also receive positive feedback on our work. Just recently, the adidas Group was rewarded as the best company in the industry for its global commitment to sustainable business practices. During an official award ceremony in Berlin, Robin J. Stalker, Chief Financial Officer and Member of the Executive Board adidas Group, accepted two awards on behalf of the adidas Group for the categories “SAM 2012 Sector Leader” and “SAM 2012 Gold Class”. With this, the adidas Group is considered to be the company within the “Clothing, Accessories & Footwear” sector that is best prepared to seize the opportunities and manage the risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. In addition to that adidas has recently also been named among the top 50 ‘greenest’ brands by Interbrand.
The SAM Sustainability Awards ceremony brought together the most sustainable German companies. Together with around 200 guests, I had the pleasure to be part of the event in the impressive ‘Museum für Telekommunikation’.
Before Robin J. Stalker accepted the awards for our sustainability engagement (which dates back to the late 90s) on stage, a short video was shown to the audience about a key initiative at the adidas Group: providing sustainable products for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Find out more here (video is in German only).
Special guest speaker was Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, former German Federal Minister for the Environment and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In a very inspiring speech, he talked about the correlation between economy and sustainability, and he highlighted the important role that businesses can and have to play in making this world a sustainable one. In addition, he shared his experience in discussing sustainable topics with numerous stakeholders worldwide.
How the sustainable performance of companies is assessed
The SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), which analyses how companies worldwide are managing sustainability issues, was conducted for the first time in the year 2000. Ever since, the adidas Group is participating each year in this comprehensive process which addresses the 2,500 largest companies worldwide.
For me it is the tenth time that I am managing this assessment process, and I have to say that I have never been prouder on what we have achieved as a company in terms of sustainability. Together with dedicated colleagues from different departments (e.g. Investor Relations, Human ResourcesHuman Resources (HRHuman Resources (HR), is the organisation within the adidas Group which is responsible for the management of our workforce. Responsibilities include attracting, selecting, training, assessing and rewarding employees as well as fostering a corporate culture of performance, passion, integrity and diversity.), is the organisation within the adidas Group which is responsible for the management of our workforce. Responsibilities include attracting, selecting, training, assessing and rewarding employees as well as fostering a corporate culture of performance, passion, integrity and diversity., Social & Environmental Affairs, Assurance, Legal and Global OperationsGlobal Operations (GOPSGlobal Operations (GOPS) is the overriding organisation for all functions which help to create products for all adidas Group brands and get them to the marketplace. Everyday Global Operations teams across the globe ensure products are created, tested, commercialised, mass produced and shipped to over 70 countries around the world.) is the overriding organisation for all functions which help to create products for all adidas Group brands and get them to the marketplace. Everyday Global Operations teams across the globe ensure products are created, tested, commercialised, mass produced and shipped to over 70 countries around the world.), the Group provides each year comprehensive input and supporting documents on over 100 general and industry-specific questions. In addition, the SAM analysts make use of media coverage, stakeholder commentaries and other publicly accessible sources and then carefully assess our input and ask stakeholder groups to verify the information provided.
On the one hand the results of the annual assessment determine each year whether the adidas Group is included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI), the first global indexes tracking the performance of leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide. And I can proudly say that, in September 2011, the adidas AG was included into the DJSI for the 12th time in a row, and named industry leader for the 8th time.
On the other hand, SAM produces each year a “Sustainability Yearbook” from the results of the Corporate Sustainability Assessment. Only the top-scoring 15% of the companies in each of the 58 sectors assessed are eligible for inclusion in “The Sustainability Yearbook” which classifies companies into three categories: SAM Gold Class, SAM Silver Class and SAM Bronze Class. In addition, a Sector Leader and a Sector Mover are identified for each sector. In January 2012, adidas AG has been officially named “SAM 2012 Sector Leader” and “SAM 2012 Gold Class” winner in the “Clothing, Accessories & Footwear” industry.
In the end I have to say that everybody involved in this process radiates engagement and commitment and I definitely see the positive results as recognition of our work and a confirmation that we are on the right track in terms of sustainable business practices.