ESG has emerged as the top theme among athletic footwear industry companies to bolster a healthier planet and boost governance. Footwear manufacturers have realized the upsides of aligning with environmentally friendly production methods. Venture capitalists, investors and other stakeholders are emphasizing shoe design, manufacturing and supply chain that conserve energy, reduce negative environmental impacts and are safe for consumers, communities and employees. Recycling of footwear, solid waste recycling, CO2 emission, social responsibility and use of renewable energies could be pronounced to propel ESG performance. 

An uptick in ESG adoption and evolving business strategies have encouraged investors to use sustainability as an engine of growth. Investors recognize that companies with sustainable credentials could outperform their rivals and competitors. Companies are banking on recycled sources and carbon-negative foam complementing renewable energy and less material usage. 

Discover more regarding the practices and strategies being implemented by industry participants form the Athletic Footwear Industry ESG Thematic Report, 2023, published by Astra ESG Solutions

Environmental Perspective

Sneaker manufacturers are echoing the role played by the dominance of climate change concerns among shareholders and other stakeholders. Forward-looking companies have committed to a more sustainable future as they continue injecting funds into environmentally preferred materials (EPM) and durable design. Notably, New Balance is contemplating sourcing 50% recycled polyester and 100% preferred leather by 2025. It is worth mentioning that recycled polyester helps minimize dependence on fossil fuels, while preferred leather helps reduce environmental impact across the supply chain. It also aims to attain zero waste to landfill in its footwear factories by 2025. Adopting more sustainable options could gain ground as companies commit to ending plastic waste and promote sports shoes made from recycled materials. 

Social Perspective

Footwear companies are grappling with rising e-commerce penetration, fast-changing consumer preferences and demand for sustainable product offerings. The need for safe labor practices, workforce diversity, customer engagement and safe working conditions has prompted stakeholders to foster their social profile. In 2021, Adidas adopted a new assessment system to boost a range of KPIs, including training participation and resolution of workers’ grievances. The Germany-based company has solidified its position in promoting fair labor practices. In 2020, the shoe manufacturer bolstered its engagement with Tier 2 suppliers to see that company practices are in line with fair labor practices. In 2021, the company added “equity” to its diversity and inclusion commitment, underpinning its DEI to foster an inclusive workplace. 

Is your business one of participants to the Global Athletic Footwear Industry? Contact us for focused consultation around ESG Investing, and help you build sustainable business practices.

Governance Perspective

Transparency, sound corporate governance and risk & opportunity assessment have become invaluable to remaining competitive and enhancing sustainable success. Risk and opportunity management has gained ground to achieve financial goals. For instance, Nike’s Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability & Governance Committee (CRS&G Committee) oversees risks and opportunities, including reviewing investments, policies, activities, and strategies; offering guidance; and monitoring the progress toward and development of its Purpose targets. Prominently, NIKE Global Risk Management has been at the forefront of helping Nike in control and governance processes and build & maintain effective risk management. Amidst receiving flak for lack of DEI advancements, it set a five-year road map in March 2021 to create a diverse and inclusive workforce. The sneaker maker is gearing up to achieve 45% representation of women in leadership positions by 2025. 

Incumbent players are cashing in on the rising footfall of sneakers across emerging and advanced economies. The advancements in low-carbon emission materials, design and technologies have led to energy-saving developments. To illustrate, in September 2022, ASICS rolled out a low-carbon emission sneaker with a carbon footprint of 1.95kg of C02e for every pair produced. These trends indicate the global athletic footwear market could witness a 4.9% CAGR by 2030, with a valuation of USD 127.3 billion in 2021. The immensely competitive nature of the sports apparel industry alludes to bullish investments in ESG initiatives.

About Astra – ESG Solutions By Grand View Research

Astra is the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) arm of Grand View Research Inc. – a global market research publishing & management consulting firm.

Astra offers comprehensive ESG thematic assessment & scores across diverse impact & socially responsible investment topics, including both public and private companies along with intuitive dashboards. Our ESG solutions are powered by robust fundamental & alternative information. Astra specializes in consulting services that equip corporates and the investment community with the in-depth ESG research and actionable insight they need to support their bottom lines and their values. We have supported our clients across diverse ESG consulting projects & advisory services, including climate strategies & assessment, ESG benchmarking, stakeholder engagement programs, active ownership, developing ESG investment strategies, ESG data services, build corporate sustainability reports. Astra team includes a pool of industry experts and ESG enthusiasts who possess extensive end-end ESG research and consulting experience at a global level.

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