We strongly believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are key to the success of our company. To be the best sports brand in the world, we need the best diverse talent that reflects the diversity of our customers and consumers. We celebrate this diversity as it helps us better serve the communities we work in, while also providing a competitive business advantage.
United against racism – our commitments
We have always been and will always be against discrimination in all forms and stand united against racism. To emphasize this principle, we shared a list of global commitments in June 2020. They describe how we aim to contribute to creating lasting change. The commitments include, among others, investing $ 120 million in the US toward ending racism and supporting Black communities through to 2025, and funding 50 university scholarships in the US each year for Black and LatinX students. We also set new targets for increased representation of Black and LatinX people within our US workforce. Our aim is to fill at least 30% of all new positions in the US with Black and LatinX people. The commitments further encompass establishing a global committee to accelerate inclusion and equality, strengthening our global anti-discrimination and non-retaliation policy, reforming our hiring and career development processes, signing the Juneteenth Pledge, and increasing support for BIPOC communities.
We already took action on several of these commitments from June 2020-June 2021 (for the full press release from June 2, 2021, click here):
- Expanded the initial scholarship commitment for Black and LatinX students, with contributions to date totaling $500,000 in debt relief grants to students at adidas’ HBCU partner schools.
- Launched the adidas Black & LatinX Community Scholarship and Legacy Scholarship programs in partnership with the United Negro College Fund to contribute $3 million in scholarship funds by 2025.
- Advanced the Cornerstone initiative, focused on removing racial disparity in the industry by actively seeking to support sportswear and fashion businesses in Black and LatinX communities. As part of this initiative, adidas will increase the diversity of its supplier base, invest time, expertise and funding to boost their digital presence, and partner with them to identify and address needs in their local communities.
- Helped found Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition, a program that provides a bridge to success for Black and LatinX entrepreneurs who are launching tech, design, healthcare and consumer products/services start-ups. Black Ambition aims to elevate Black and LatinX entrepreneurs through two prize competitions culminating in a national event.
- Committed $10 million over the next three years to fund BeyGOOD partner social programs, organizations, and/or initiatives that help bring equity to those disproportionately impacted by social and racial injustice. In 2020, adidas contributed $2 million to the Black-Owned Small Business Impact Fund created by BeyGOOD and the NAACP.
- Conducted a global Inclusive Recruitment Series for all Talent Acquisition team members across the organization focused on identifying, attracting, and assessing top diverse talent by strengthening the company’s inclusive processes and opportunities. Additionally, the Talent Acquisition team is currently developing a training to support all Line Managers and the HR community in conducting a fair and inclusive hiring process.
- Strengthened and reinforced the global Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy. Created global and local policies, including the consequences guidelines which are complemented by the new Corrective Action Matrix in the U.S., that provide clear guidance on how the company will respond to harassment, discrimination, disrespectful conduct, and retaliation. Employees also completed an online Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment course.
Furthermore, we provided our employees with a platform on our intranet to support and promote dialogue around our anti-racism and anti-discrimination work. Throughout the company, we continue to support and grow our ‘Employee Resource Groups’ – these are specific networks that give employees from various walks of life a voice and serves members by fostering a diverse inclusive workplace. We now have more than 40 of these groups around the globe with different focuses on diversity dimensions such as Race & Ethnicity, Faith & Culture, Women, LGBTQ+, Ability and Life. Participation in the groups is voluntary and open to all employees.
Diversity, equity and inclusion framework
In 2020, we redefined our framework for diversity, equity and inclusion with a clear definition of what it means to us as a company: It means championing individual uniqueness and cultivating a culture of belonging so that everyone can create at their best. The framework highlights our approach both internally and externally which is why we defined three strategic focus areas:
- Workplace: We want to create a work environment where all employees feel like they belong, are valued and are engaged to produce exceptional results.
- Workforce: We want to attract, recruit, promote, and retain the best talent and maintain a diverse workforce at all levels and areas of the business.
- Marketplace: We want to represent the diverse communities we serve through our communications, products, partnerships, and investments.
As part of the three focus areas, we have made global internal commitments to promote inclusion and equality at adidas. These commitments are supported by specific actions with clear timelines, and progress is communicated internally. This action plan underpins our stance against discrimination and microaggressions.
One of the commitments we made was the introduction of a global anti-racism and unconscious-bias training – the ‘Creating a Culture of Inclusion (CCI) Team Workout’. The training, which was mandatory for all employees, was rolled out globally in the third quarter of 2020 and completed in early 2021. The program consisted of six modules which focused on topics such as diversity dimensions, privilege, and inclusive team behaviors. The content was aimed at educating teams on diversity and inclusion topics that may impact performance and the sense of belonging, both individually and as a team.
In addition, we are committed to dedicate time in our internal cultural agenda to pause, reflect, learn and celebrate inclusion. This initiative started in September 2020 with the ‘Global Day of Inclusion’ and continued in 2021 with the ‘Global Week of Inclusion’. In collaboration with our global leadership teams, partners and athletes, this initiative has now become an annual event and staple in our employee engagement efforts.
We are convinced that mixed leadership teams have a competitive advantage and are drivers of business success. adidas is committed to ensuring equitable representation across all diversity dimensions in leadership positions, which includes enhancing our current focus on gender equality. A prerequisite for increasing the number of women at the highest levels of management is the general promotion of women within the company worldwide at all levels. We have various initiatives in place to guarantee that our succession pipeline is balanced, including mentoring of female talent as well as an equal gender split in our Global and Local High Potential programs.
By the end of 2021, the company had recorded a total of 37% of women globally in management positions (2020: 35%). Our ambition is to increase the share of women in leadership positions to exceed 40% by 2025. This new goal also reflects our consumer focus, where women are a company-wide priority. Pursuant to the German Law on Equal Participation of Women and Men in Leadership Positions in the Private and Public Sector, the adidas AG Supervisory Board determined target figures for the percentage of female representation on the Executive Board, including corresponding deadlines for their achievement. The Executive Board determined such target figures for the first two management levels below the Executive Board, including deadlines for their achievement, for adidas AG.
To hold ourselves accountable when it comes to our global inclusion commitments, we’ve established a new global DEI Council, composed of the Executive Board, business, and market heads. This council will create business ownership on all global DEI initiatives, provide strategic direction, align on policy and guidelines, and ultimately, set up a sustainable governance for the future.