Nike, Lego, SAP, Visa: Why these brands lead the industry in sports impact

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Improve access to sport participation for women and girls, disadvantaged youth and marginalized communities. Raising funds for disaster relief efforts and charities working to support displaced citizens in active war zones. Apply technology solutions to help sports organizations and venue operators reduce their carbon emissions and encourage spectators to make more sustainable choices.

These are just some of the ways the brands recognized in this year’s Laureus Sport For Good Index are using their respective platforms and sports investments to drive positive social and environmental change.

Released this week, the second edition of the index includes 29 brands from multiple industry sectors, including sportswear and apparel, consumer products, technology, energy, financial services and transportation. Together, these brands are making a tangible difference through innovation, creativity and a commitment to building a more prosperous and equitable society.

Through their sports partnerships, each of the companies implements social and environmental sustainability initiatives that are important to their business and intended to benefit both people and the planet. With a clear focus on the triple bottom line, their approaches and investments differ in many ways, but what unites them is a common goal of meaningfully advancing the sport for good campaigns.

Here, SportsPro breaks down this year’s Laureus Sport For Good Index by sector to identify how the Class of 2022 is leading its industries and using sports as a vehicle to achieve long-term, targeted goals.

Sporting goods and clothing

The Laureus Sport For Good Index recognizes brands that do a good job in sports as well as those that invest outside of the industry. Thus, the brands of articles and sportswear are again well represented this year, with 12 companies – 41% of the total – coming from this very important endemic sector.

It’s no secret that sportswear manufacturers and retailers have a pivotal role to play in setting the tone and creating value for the sports industry. For legions of fans, these are the most visible touchpoints through which the sport is experienced and the fandom is expressed in their daily lives. Additionally, leagues and clubs across all sports rely on them for funding and the supply of technical equipment, not to mention their extensive distribution networks and unparalleled marketing influence.

Their scale and influence are such that global brands on the tip of the tongue like Nike and Adidas exercise a considerable responsibility to lead by example. By implementing more sustainable business practices, developing more environmentally friendly products, spreading responsible messages and inspiring future generations with viral marketing campaigns, they have the power to be forces for the well in industries where manufacturing and supply chains span the globe but remain opaque. and widely scrutinized.

There is no single common thread that unites the work of each of the activewear brands featured in the Index. Priorities and ambitions differ, of course, but what’s clear is that these are all goal-driven companies – some are B Corps certified – using their sport for good business to achieve goals. broader ESG-related business.

Of Patagoniathe beacon child of corporate activism, HummelRecently named Denmark’s most sustainable clothing brand for the third year in a row, these companies have a lot to teach others about what it means to run a socially responsible business.

Nike’s Move to Zero initiative aims to reduce the company’s carbon emissions and waste


consumer products

In their messaging and advertising, in the way they choose to do business and make products, in their ability to embed themselves in the hearts and minds of young and old, consumer-facing brands exercise a unique influence on consumer behavior and everyday purchasing decisions.

In sports, brands use this influence in multiple ways. Indeed, the five consumer products companies featured in this year’s index – Clif Bar, EA Sports, Lego, Rexona and sun god – work to highlight and address a wide range of issues, from gender equality and food security to ocean conservation and youth education.

Clif Bar, in particular, has long been a leader in corporate social responsibility (CSR), having made sustainability a central part of its brand philosophy for three decades. But what sets these companies apart is how they measure and report their impact.

In addition to featuring clear mission statements and eye-catching campaigns that seek to engage mass-market consumers, all were highly praised by the index judging panel for the depth and breadth of data they capture and the specific results they publish around their respective projects.


WNBA partner Google has taken steps to increase visibility and discoverability of women’s basketball content

Technology

As essential service providers, technology companies provide the technological backbone upon which much of the physical and digital architecture of sport is built. Yet many are now using their sports partnerships for greater purposes, which go beyond simply providing software and hardware.

Through the innovative deployment of technological solutions, these companies apply their expertise and services for all kinds of good causes, including the empowerment of women. In collaboration with various sports and association partners, for example, Microsoft runs STEM-based educational programs for young girls and uses its Teams coworking platform to facilitate connections between elite athletes and a global community of female fans.

Like Microsoft, Google has also been particularly active in women’s sports. As a changemaker of the WNBA and official partner of the International Basketball Federation (Fiba), the tech giant is taking steps to increase the visibility and discoverability of women’s basketball content, as part of its broader commitment to achieve a more balanced representation of the sexes in the media.

Somewhere else SAP helps organizations of all kinds – from elite entities like the National Hockey League (NHL) and Formula E team Mercedes-EQ to grassroots sports clubs – monitor and reduce their environmental footprint through platforms and cloud-based tools. Meanwhile, lesser-known companies like Rubicon, Xylem and Xero are doing equally impactful work in this behind-the-scenes space, helping to improve awareness and education on issues that directly affect both their businesses and society as a whole.


FC Bayern’s main partner Allianz aims to improve gender diversity with its ‘All are united’ campaign

Financial services

Another sector attracted by women’s sport is financial services. The two financial companies included in this year’s index, Allianz and Visaare both heavily invested in female properties and athletes, and both use their investments to support broader ESG goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

FC Bayern’s lead partner Allianz aims to improve gender diversity through campaigns such as its ‘All Unite’ initiative and the Allianz Sports Fund, while Visa, UEFA’s women’s football partner since 2018 , manages various projects dedicated to women’s football and launched The Second Half. , a program that supports female soccer players in Europe as they consider their post-soccer career.

Although neither feature in the index this year, two other financial companies recognized in 2021, Barclays and Santander, have taken similar approaches, with targeted investments in women’s football in their respective UK home markets. and Spain. The Visa Mastercard rival, another 2021 winner, is also a prominent supporter of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States.

There are undoubtedly many reasons why the financial sector is pouring its money into women’s sport – accelerating growth and the potential for commercial returns in mind. The impact of their money on the elite is already apparent, but their work at the community and grassroots level through Sport for Good Projects, if supported in the years to come, will certainly have a huge influence over the years. time.


Spanish energy company Iberdrola is working to reduce the environmental impact of sports facilities such as Madrid’s Sustainable Football City

Energy and transport

Two other sectors represented in this year’s index, energy and transport, are very similar to technology in that they mainly play a service provider role in sports. By their very nature, these two industries are hardly the most environmentally sustainable compared to many other sectors, but some companies are clearly more committed than others to reducing the environmental impact of the sports industry.

Logistics company Kuehne+Nagelthrough its work with SailGP and the Rugby World Cup, is advancing net zero supply chains, while Nissanthe only automaker in the index, is actively showcasing the potential benefits of electric vehicles through its participation in Formula E.

Energy companies elsewhere Ecotricity and Iberdrola have both been recognized for their work in helping sports organizations go green and promote sustainable mobility. UK-based Ecotricity partners with more than 200 charities and teams such as Forest Green Rovers, dubbed the world’s greenest football club, with renewable energy, and Spanish company Iberdrola working to reduce the environmental impact of elite sports facilities, including the first Sustainable Football City in Madrid.

Together, these initiatives have the power to dramatically accelerate the green sports movement and inspire major carbon emitters to see the benefits of adopting more sustainable practices.


To view the full Laureus Sport For Good Index and find out why each brand is included, click here.

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