5 Athletic Wear Companies: Who Wins on Sustainability?

By: Alexandra Kueller

Two weeks ago we introduced SSC’s latest peer benchmarking analysis, and last week we introduced an in-depth look at three of the six dimensions - governance, environment, and workplace- we analyzed during our process. This week we will finish our analysis of the remaining three dimension starting with community:

Community relations is no longer an afterthought; it is now a serious, strategic aspect of business for all companies. For SSC’s peer benchmarking process we were looking to identify ways that a company is a good citizen of the community: philanthropic initiatives, employee volunteering, community investment activities, and engagement with local stakeholders.

Overview of the Community Dimension

Points:

  • Nike – 17
  • Adidas – 12
  • Puma – 7
  • Lululemon – 8
  • Under Armour – 4

Great news! During our analysis of the community dimension, we noticed that philanthropy carried a unanimous importance in all five companies. Community investment and volunteering are more of a wildcard. Only Nike and Adidas mentioned both categories, with the remaining three companies addressing at least one of those two categories. But overall, engagement is a category that is only mentioned by two different companies (Nike and Puma) and just briefly, too.

Philanthropy

As mentioned above, philanthropy is held in high regard to all five companies. Everyone analyzed had many examples of their philanthropic efforts listed on either their website and in their sustainability reports. Three companies – Nike, Lululemon, Puma – have their philanthropy policy stated as well, with Nike, Adidas, Puma providing performance data as well.

Volunteering

Volunteering is another category that proved to be important to all five companies. Nike and Adidas all provided strong policies, programs, and performance metrics throughout their sustainability report and their website. Under Armour listed a brief policy on their website, and Puma had many examples of volunteering opportunities in their report. Lululemon was the only company to not directly mention volunteering. 

Community Investment

Lululemon scored very well in the community investment category by having an excellent policy regarding community investment and a multitude of examples of programs they use to stay connected to the local community. Adidas briefly mentioned a community investment policy in their report, and Nike had at least a policy, program, and some sort of performance metric. Under Armour and Puma mentioned nothing of topic in either their report or website.

Engagement

Engagement was the one category in the community dimension that had no heavy hitters. Nike and Puma were the only companies to mention engagement, and even that was a brief amount of detail. While it is important for companies to give back around the world and encourage their employees to do the same, it is just as important for companies to give community members an opportunity to provide feedback to the company.

Click here to catch up on the governance dimension, environment dimension, and workplace dimension.