How Sustainable are the Workplaces of Athletic Wear Brands?

Last week we introduced SSC’s latest peer benchmarking analysis, and this week we will take an in-depth look at each dimension.

A sustainable company has a responsibility to ensure a safe, healthy, and equitable workplace for their employees and contractors. In SSC’s peer benchmarking analysis, we look for companies that go beyond the legal requirements mandated by workplace laws and regulations. Acceptable companies are able to tie their workplace practices back to the success of their companies.

Overview of the Workplace Dimension


  • Nike – 19
  • Adidas – 21
  • Puma – 18
  • Lululemon – 2
  • Under Armour – 0

During our analysis of the workplace dimension, one common trend kept appearing among all of the companies: there were the top dogs, and there were the laggards. Nike, Adidas, and Puma are all leading the way in this dimension. With strong results in the diversity, health & safety, and training & education categories, along with points in working conditions as well, these companies have demonstrated workplace excellence. Under Armour and Lululemon are on the lower end of the spectrum, with the latter only briefly mentioning working conditions on their website.


The diversity category was a very strong category for Nike, Adidas, and Puma (Nike and Puma received full points). All three of those companies had very strong programs and policies regarding diversity, and they also provided detailed performance metrics. Lululemon and Under Armour did not mention diversity in any of their website materials.

Health & Safety

Just like diversity, the health & safety category had Nike, Adidas, and Puma scoring the highest points and Lululemon and Under Armour receiving zero points. Adidas and Puma were the two companies that received full points and Nike was not far behind.

Training & Education

The trend continues with the training & education category: Nike, Adidas, and Puma were the top performers and Lululemon and Under Armour were the underachievers. This time around, Nike was the only company to receive full points.

Working Conditions

The working conditions category was the only category where more than three companies received points; Lululemon was the additional company in the category on top of Nike, Adidas, and Puma. While the previous categories were strong for any reporting companies, Adidas was the only company to supply solid policies, programs, and performance data. The other companies only briefly mentioned a policy or some supporting programs.

Missed our second dimension analysis earlier this week? Catch up right here!

Puma, Adidas, Under Armour – Who Has the Best Sustainability?

Last week we introduced SSC’s latest peer benchmarking analysis, and this week we will take an in-depth look at each dimension. For a better understanding of how we score and each dimension, please read:

A company that is environmentally responsible is the key to any sustainability plan. During SSC’s peer benchmarking process we look for companies that use the earth’s resources efficiently, seek out renewable materials and energy options, incorporate life-cycle-based thinking, and evaluate performance to allow for continuous improvement.

Overview of the Environment Dimension


  • Nike – 20
  • Adidas – 14
  • Puma – 19
  • Lululemon – 10
  • Under Armour – 4

Between the five companies in the environment dimension, energy & climate change and water are the leading categories with all five companies receiving points in both. For the companies that addressed waste & recycling, they reported strong, well-rounded plans that focused on policies, programs, and performance. Land use & biodiversity was the weakest category, with only two companies briefly addressing the issue.

Energy & Climate Change

Energy & climate change was the strongest category in the Environment dimension, with three companies scoring maximum points (Nike, Adidas, and Puma). This indicates that these companies have very strong policies, programs that support the policies, and that they provide plenty of performance metrics. Lululemon and Under Armour briefly mention a policy regarding energy and climate change on their website, with Lululemon providing performance data and Under Armour supplying examples from their programs.

Waste & Recycling

Four out of the five companies mentioned waste and/or recycling on their website and in their reports at least once (Under Armour was the only company not to do so). Nike and Puma achieved maximum points for the Waste & Recycling category, while Adidas and Lululemon provided strong policies and supporting programs for waste and recycling.


The water category is strong amongst all of the companies as all five provide at least one water policy. As with the previous categories, Nike and Puma received maximum points for having excellent policies, programs, and performance metrics, and Lululemon and Adidas were not far behind. However, Lululemon and Adidas did not provide as many metrics or programs as Nike or Puma. Under Armour has the weakest score with only a brief policy mentioned on their website.

Land Use & Biodiversity

The only companies to discuss either land use OR biodiversity were Nike and Puma. Nike only had a brief land use and biodiversity policy and respective programs mentioned in their report. Puma had one performance metric. The three other companies – Adidas, Lululemon, and  Under Armour – had no mention of either land use or biodiversity.

Miss our first dimension analysis earlier this week? Catch right up here!

Sustainability: the Key to Future Business Prosperity - Part I

Are you a retailer and wonder where the industry will be in 15 years, 20 years, or beyond?

Regardless of industry, most of us wonder what the world will be like given our current environment. Will there be drought, floods, and/or limited energy supplies? While it is easy to ask questions about the future, it is very hard to prepare for uncertainty.

In looking ahead the Retail Industry Leaders Association “RILA” (pronounced REEL-ah) launched “The Retail Horizons Program” to help retailers and product manufacturers prepare for tomorrow by driving sustainable change within their organizations through a three-pronged approach.

The three prongs are

  1. Recognizing current trends that point to change,
  2. Planning for different future scenarios, and
  3. Using tools provided by RILA for additional support.

The program was rolled out at the end of September in conjunction with RILA’s sustainability conference in Minneapolis.

As an added bonus, being in the retail industry is not essential to reaping the perks of this program. Anyone in a product driven organization will benefit from using the second prong, future scenarios, in practicing forward thinking.

The common theme that unifies the Retail Horizons program is sustainability. At Strategic Sustainability Consulting we couldn't agree more that sustainability is the key to businesses staying strong. Implementing sustainability practices now, arm businesses with the shield they need to protect against a potential unstable future whether it is a weak economy, sparse resources, and/or environmental instability.

Additionally, RILA is not only looking out for a business’s future stability, but their financial stability as well. There is a free downloadable toolkit to help retailers plan for the years ahead, and it can also be applied to other product-driven organizations. To download the toolkit, go to:

Stay tuned for Sustainability: the Key to Future Busniess Prosperity - Part II: Current Trends as Future Indicators next week! 

Be sure to check out our 2013 blog entry that focused on RILA's Retail Sustainability Report here.