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Last time, I wrote about the adidas Group’s engagement with the Sticks & Stones and how the company publicly showcased its ambition to be a “proud employer” and to promote diversity and inclusion amongst its workforce. Back then, I asked you to stay tuned about this exciting topic to see where the journey takes us. And I can tell you, a lot has happened since then!

When talking to a few employees and some of my friends, we agreed already during Sticks & Stones that we want to establish an LGBT network within the adidas Group. This is something that some companies already have but we never thought we would need because all of us feel accepted at work. However, after having been exposed to representatives of other companies at the 24/7 Unicorn, I am convinced that an LGBT network can benefit the company and the employees equally.

Right after the fair, in October, the HR Diversity & Inclusion team held their yearly Diversity Day and, for the first time, wanted to put the LGBT topic on the agenda. As I was part of the Sticks & Stones team, they approached me to host a workshop. I was flattered and of course willing to do so. I held a one-hour interactive presentation and tried to show opportunities how the employees within the adidas Group could organize themselves to better address the needs of their LGBT community. I was positively surprised that many of the attendees of the workshop commented right then and there they would like to be part of this network and they believed in the potential that this group can have. What started off as a single workshop has now transformed into a self-sustaining network of employees who are keen to bring this topic on the company’s agenda as well as offer a platform for all employees to exchange experiences and opinions.

From a get-together to defined objectives

It didn’t take long until a group of about seven or eight had the first get-together at the famous Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt to get to know each other while enjoying some hot wine punch. Since then, we have grown to almost 20 people and have had a couple of more meetings in the office to discuss WHAT we want to achieve with this network and HOW we would like to organize ourselves. Now we have already finalized our mission statement and vision of HOW we want to contribute to the adidas Group´s life. Our main objectives are:

  • Educating and creating awareness amongst employees
  • Providing information and resources within the company
  • Acting as a liaison entity towards the outside LGBT community

Of course, we are in close contact with the senior management team within HR and I am very proud that they signed off right away our mission and vision statement. It is good to know that the management team of the adidas Group is truly supporting our network and our initiatives.

Setting an example in diversity

This week, I was filled with pride once I found out that our CEO Herbert Hainer has signed the Berlin declaration against homophobia in sports. This declaration, which is also signed by politicians and sports functionaries, aims at the promotion of diversity, respect, inclusion and acceptance in the world of sport, particularly in soccer. In good company with famous soccer clubs like Bayern Munich and sports associations like the DFB and the Bundesliga, the adidas Group is the first company to officially take a stand against discrimination against homosexuals on the pitch by signing this document. Of course, diversity is one of our four Group mission statements and values. We always say that we create an environment that welcomes, respects and embraces diversity. Herbert Hainer´s signature on the Berlin declaration demonstrates once more that we really mean what we say.

With our network we want to address all interested LGBT employees as well as any supporters. Of course we are aligned, in contact and in close collaboration with our PDX LGBT group. Within our network, we want to propose initiatives and ideas on how the adidas Group can engage internally amongst its subsidiaries and workforce as well as externally to promote the topic of inclusion and acceptance. We are currently populating our own intranet page which allows all employees across the world to interact on this platform. With the help of the adidas HR Diversity & Inclusion team as well as the network’s growing number of participants worldwide, I am sure there is plenty more to come over the next months.

I am absolutely proud to have been part of making this happen from the very first and to work with such passionate and enthusiastic colleagues who are willing to go the extra mile and contribute to turning this into reality. If you have any ideas or requests, please let us know. We are only at the beginning of our journey and are open for feedback.