The adidas Sustainability Series
At adidas we are trying to push the boundaries of sustainability by pooling our resources and working together to achieve our goals. We believe that, while individually we can take action, together we can amplify our efforts to create a more sustainable world by being a more sustainable company.
“Change starts with people. The only way to make the process itself sustainable is to involve all employees. It is something that benefits them from all angles in their professional and personal lives” – Katherine Machler, Senior Director Workplace Governance adidas.
Embracing passion to create a greener culture
We’ve embedded sustainability into our corporate strategy and drive the topic with a team of experts. Additionally, we’re eager to draw from the ideas and experiences of our people. We can learn so much from our passionate employees who want to give something back to the planet.
Keeping this passion alive is essential because it causes us to look at the issues from a different, perhaps even more practical, perspective. We embrace open dialogue on our internal social media channels and support it with meaningful employee engagement such as learning sessions, while also giving our people the tools and space to mentally and emotionally connect with the values of our company.
Our goal is to embed the concept of sustainability across all areas of our company, not just our strategy documents. Employees should know from their very first day how adidas is tackling the topic of sustainability. This way, all team members can support us from the start in becoming a more sustainable company.
Empowering our people to make a difference
Since 2008, we’ve been developing employee volunteer groups known as Green Teams. They are role models for making adidas a more sustainable company. They do this by providing ideas, helping us shape a more sustainable future, and driving continuous improvement across all our global locations. Their efforts touch every corner of our operations including areas such as energy, environment, health & safety, and facility management. As things currently stand, we have around 75 Green Teams across the globe.
They crowdsource ideas and positively contribute to adidas’ goal to become a more sustainable company from the bottom up. And no change is too small – the decision to improve waste separation by adding color-coded bins at personal workstations stemmed from our Green Teams.
And it doesn’t stop there. They’ve supported other initiatives such as the removal of single-use plastic from our workplaces. They’ve introduced a secondhand market ‘Swap Shop’ for clothes and accessories. Additionally, they’ve supported charity events like ‘Run for Kaya’ to fund water projects in Africa and organized plogging events. These activations truly reflect our company purpose that ‘through sport, we have the power to change lives.’
Our Green Teams are also raising awareness on how we can reduce energy use – one of our goals for 2025. We know that responsible energy use is critical to the survival of our planet. To bring attention to this, every year we organize an Earth Hour. For this sixty minutes, we encourage employees to turn off or avoid using all non-essential energy sources – lamps, TVs, microwaves, radios – thus joining the world’s largest collective environmental action.
During the pandemic, our Green Teams continued supporting the expansion of our group of sustainability experts. They regularly shared tips and tricks for a sustainable home office, came up with surveys, and used online tutorials to educate. Then they tested our employees’ knowledge via intranet quizzes to sustain their engagement’s momentum, which had been held up for more than a decade.
How Green Teams support our strategic direction
Together we want to help create a more sustainable world. And by embracing the passion of our people we believe we can contribute to truly meaningful change.
And while we believe our employees can act as multipliers, we are also exploring ways to get others involved. Schools, daycares, local authorities, and other businesses all have a part in sharing the good of the cause with future generations. Want to join the journey? Here are just a few tips to help you on your way:
4 ways you can engage your people to support your sustainable company goals
- Offer a program to support employees’ volunteer groups. This can be done by providing a platform for every employee to engage in sustainability activations and events to raise awareness.
- Integrate sustainability into your onboarding processes to ensure new joiners know from their very first day what your company’s sustainability plans are. This way they can better support the overall strategy.
- Motivate people to adopt best practices they can apply in their daily lives, to take better care of our planet.
- Engage with employees and get them to contribute to your sustainability goals. You could organize and support annual corporate events as well as sustainability activations where employees can participate.