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PUMA: a model of good reporting practice

By Elaine Cohen (BeyondBusiness) on September 28, 2009 at 10:35am.


 Puma. Founded in 1948, headquartered in Germany, turning over $2.5 billion in sports footwear, apparel and accessories, 10,000 employees worldwide, 380 factories in the supply chain and around 300,000 people employed in total in the manufacture of Puma products. An outstanding CSR and sustainability practitioner.  A very transparent reporter.

Want to know the carbon footprint in the life cycle of a sports shoe? See this report. In 2008, Puma commissioned a university thesis and developed a methodology for carbon foot printing and relative emission levels in the LCA of one specific shoe brand. The result? 41.08 kg footprint. Most interesting however, is the analysis.  "The most significant impacts which contribute the overriding level of carbon emissions are cattle and pig processing: 57% of the 41 kg CO2 emitted per pair of shoes originate from cattle farming and another 37% from pig farming . This means that the overwhelming carbon emissions of our shoe can be traced back to leather production, while transport emissions are rather low in comparison".  Six countries are involved in the supply chain of this single shoe. Excluding the livestock data, of the remaining 6% emissions generated in the shoe supply chain, the breakdown is as follows: 24% is related to transportation processes, 35% from incineration, 21% in manufacturing and 20% from producing electricity. This is a powerful exercise representing pioneering work which PUMA are using to reapply to other brands and develop an industry standard for sports shoe carbon footprinting.  And of course, excellent reporting and transparency.  Who would have thought that to reduce the carbon footprint of a sports shoe, you have to start with a cow?!

Want to know the most significant failings found in audited factories in the PUMA supply chain? PUMA report the data globally and specifically for China. This is an insight into the constant challenge facing apparel manufacturers to ensure supply chain integrity, and it reads like the content index of an ILO manual. The key global failings reported are: health and safety issues such as poor chemical management, poor workplace environment (noise, air quality, etc.), occupational health issues, false documentation and coached worker practices (coaching employees to answer the "right" but not necessarily "honest" answers to auditors), lack of clear guidance for workers (rules and regulations/code of conduct guidelines) and mandatory benefits and poor management of working hours. PUMA states: "Alarmingly, critical and basic compliance requirements such as minimum wages were found in more than a third of failed suppliers."  In China, non-observance of rest days, non-provision of social insurance and false documentation were the key issues. Great data, great insights, great reporting.

Want to know how PUMA contributes to peace? Read the section on Peace One Day – primary sponsorship and support by PUMA for the non-profit initiative endorsed by the UN to engage multi-stakeholders in the practical manifestation of nonviolence and ceasefire in accordance with UN GA Resolution 55/282, and encourage action on Peace Day that creates a united and sustainable world. UN GA Resolution 55/282 appeals to all individuals to act on the UN International Day of Peace, 21 September, to help create peace in the world. PUMA contributes in various ways, including sales of products to support Peace One Day, and in 2008, over 30,000 people participated worldwide in over 400 planned football matches in 180 countries to support the goal of peace.

Want to know how PUMA supports responsible business practices of suppliers?  Read how PUMA helps suppliers to develop their own sustainability reports. PUMA took part in a pilot project in South Africa led by the GRI which promoted transparency and sustainability performance of suppliers and the multinational enterprises who buy from them. Through this project, PUMA supported small and medium-sized suppliers in producing their own sustainability reports, and three PUMA suppliers (Impahla, Suzi Products, Vimal) reported in 2008. PUMA includes a target to expand this to 10 suppliers in the next reporting period. I believe this is one of the most significant ways corporations can extend their indirect influence into the supply chain – and the benefits to PUMA and to their suppliers are listed in the PUMA report.

Want to know how PUMA interacts with stakeholders? Annual stakeholder discussions with leading experts and opinion formers and a rage of collaborations with other NGO's and activist groups is reported.

Want to know how PUMA reacted to demands and criticisms of a report by the International Play Fair Alliance about working conditions prior to the Beijing Olympics ? A full account of PUMA responses and subsequent actions are reported.

Finally, there is much more in this report including Human Resources Management, environmental disclosures and material usages, and more very comprehensive content.

Notwithstanding, the professional eye discerns a few omissions:
· a clear view of how CR is managed in PUMA - it is unclear how this is structured in the group;
· a total cash figure for community contributions covering all the PUMA programs. PUMA's activities seem extensive and admirable, but I miss a sense of the financial scale of this commitment;
· a materiality assessment and matrix - despite discussion of stakeholder feedback and lots of discussion about what's important to PUMA, some sense of prioritization and clarity of overarching issues in the form of a materiality assessment would add value to this report;
· a view of the relationship with a key stakeholder for PUMA - the retailer. We hear about how PUMA impacts at all stages of the supply chain, but there is no discussion of the interdependency of PUMA and its retail customers and the impact of this on PUMA's decision making; and
· a disclosure about marketing approach and the ethics of marketing PUMA products.


Accessing Puma's report is a bit of a nightmare. The PDF is a 42.38 megabyte download! and the html on-line booklet is no easier to navigate and takes forever to load. I resorted to waiting 15 minutes whilst this ultra heavy PDF downloaded via my cable broadband, hoping it was worth the read. If I hadn’t decided to review this report, I would have long since given up. PUMA report every 2 years and they clearly have a lot to say. It's rather a sprawling report containing both a detailed dedicated Communication on Progress in line with UN Global Compact requirements, which is almost a report in itself, and reporting against GRI indicators with a comprehensive GRI index.  Usually I would find these two elements integrated and cross-referenced through one combined  index. To get the full picture on certain issues, you have to toggle between the two, and other bits in between, which makes for a somewhat disjointed reading experience.  


This report is genuine and extremely readable for all stakeholders. It's rather long, and occasionally repetitive, but it has a nice flow and tone that makes you want to read on. The report contains both standard reporting topics delivering data and facts, and also provides a good view of subjects in which PUMA takes a pioneering approach. There is a balance of good-news reporting and open discussion of challenges and some sensitivities.  The report delivers an advanced view of how a corporation can address important sustainability issues. At A+ GRI-checked reporting level, and with a reasonable limited assurance statement which does a solid job, this report makes the grade, in my view.  Well done to PUMA on this report. Definitely one that stands out for me as a model of good practice.


1. Tighten up the language a little - cut out repetition and use fewer words - help the reader get to the important issues  more quickly
2. Materiality assessment would be nice
3. Report on PUMA retailer stakeholder impacts

Elaine Cohen is the Joint CEO of BeyondBusiness Ltd, www.b-yond.biz/en , a leading CSR reporting and consulting firm in Israel,  specializing in a wide range of consulting services for the development of social and environmental responsibility of businesses. Elaine Cohen is an independent reviewer and has no relationship with the reporting company.