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adidas: How A Social Impact Initiative Allowed Me To Grow

Category: Community Engagement, Adidas, Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Impact


How A Social Impact Initiative Allowed Me To Grow

adidas’ Emelie Robertsson shares how getting involved in a social impact initiative has boosted her own personal development.

August 20, 2019

by Emelie Robertson | Staff


When I first started working as Corporate Communication Manager for adidas in Nordics, I immediately saw it as a huge opportunity to grow and excel in my line of work. With 18 years of experience, yet never having worked in the sports industry, I knew I had a big learning curve ahead of me but I embraced the journey fully.

“Not only did I start to learn about our business, I also got to see first-hand how we in adidas make a difference through social impact projects. ” 

This summer I opted to volunteer for a week, together with 30 colleagues from our headquarters, in an exciting social impact project taking place alongside the Women’s World Cup in Lyon, France.


 Engaging on the pitch

The Equal Playing Field initiative had organized the Festival of Football to take on the armband of challenging gender inequality in sport and to promote sport development for girls and women globally.

adidas was sponsoring, not just by injecting money, but actually helping out in a truly constructive manner, through employee volunteers. As an employee engagement professional, I simply loved it.

Our core belief at adidas is that ‘through sport, we have the power to change lives’. It’s something that resonates with me deeply. Having turned to sport as a rescue – surfing and running in particular – when going through the motions of a tough breakup.

But that’s nothing compared to what sport can do for removing gender inequalities, and creating inclusion and diversity on a global scale.



Supporting the #anygirlanywhere press conference in Lyon.


Passion and play

For Equal Playing Field to organize such an event as the Festival of Football requires a real passion for both change and for football.

“Bringing in adidas employees as volunteers was a perfect match. From day one, we felt like one team.” 

For me, it was the perfect setting to quickly get to know passionate employees from across the globe and to learn more about the reality of working for an NGO, like Equal Playing Field. It was massive. But it was also so much fun and play. No losers, only winners. And girl power!


Peers and protection

On the pitch it did not matter whether you were young or old, what language you spoke, if you had never played football before or had professional experience. We all played together as peers, for fun and to raise awareness of inequality in sport and football for girls globally.

We met with so many girls who had no real opportunities to practice sports and who faced harassment in their societies for wanting to play. We listened to their stories and we boosted their confidence on and off the pitch.

One of the many girls I spoke with was Melissa Camacho from the team Las Chicas Unidas in Mexico:


 “We do not have the same opportunities as the boys do.

And here we all fight together for changing that. With real impact. It’s an honor to be here. ” 

Melissa Camacho


 Knowing that we would meet with so many young kids also meant a huge responsibility for us volunteers. Before the project, everyone needed to take a ‘Child Protection Awareness Training’ to know how to act in case we saw or heard of young girls (or boys) being treated poorly either at the event or in their normal environment back home.

In retrospect the training was well needed and gave us the confidence that we, as adults had to have to create a truly ‘protected space’ for these girls and women from all over the world playing football together in Lyon.


Professional learnings

My volunteering time at the Women’s World Cup in France wasn’t all social impact focused. I also put my skills to use in the HQ press office searching out great stories ‘on the field’ and finding possible spokespersons out of the blue.

 “It was especially rewarding when I could make young girls and women in this case feel confident enough to tell their stories directly on camera.” 

As a communicator it can sometimes look like a straightforward task to read and listen your way into understanding your new workplace and your employer. But what I’ve learned over the years, and especially this summer when volunteering, is that nothing beats action when it comes to understanding how we make a difference and what kind of company we really are.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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