Decathlon Foundation: sport as a vector of integration

The Foundation shares Decathlon’s purpose and values. Since 2005 it has been helping team mates keen to get involved in social inclusion projects, using sport as a vehicle for integration. In 2015, the Foundation’s mission began to place greater emphasis on integration within the employment market. Decathlon project leaders are now tasked with enabling Foundation beneficiaries to discover the joys and advantages of sport, as well as providing practical support in terms of getting them back into work (help writing CVs, conducting mock interviews, and presentations on business sectors/roles, with a view to internships, training placements, and temporary and permanent contracts) within an organisation of their choice. This is how the Decathlon Foundation encourages diversity, both outside the company and within its teams.
For over 10 years, the Foundation has helped 490 team mates with 290 projects in 25 countries (52% of projects are pursued outside France). These projects have seen 184,042 beneficiaries become integrated members of society through education, training and employment.

A bigger local impact through increasing numbers of autonomous countries

Local Foundation Teams are being formed so as to facilitate team mate initiatives and project monitoring. Italy was the first country to adopt such a system in 2015, with China, India, Brazil, France and Spain set to follow a similar route shortly.

We have a commission comprising a wide range of people with very varied professional and personal backgrounds. It’s brilliant!

Stefania Sacchi, Decathlon Foundation Italy manager
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A new organisation with strong beliefs Stefania Sacchi, Decathlon Foundation Italy manager, talks about her involvement.
  • Last year, the Decathlon Foundation manager suggested you become autonomous. What are the advantages of organising yourselves in this way?

    It’s been excellent for us! One of the main opportunities is being able to present projects in Italian, in our own language. On 23 March, we organised our very first Italian board and approved four new projects! The project leaders and associations were able to convey their passion and commitment in their own language. Being autonomous, we will now be able to hold 4 board meetings a year, specifically for Italian projects, giving us the opportunity to help more beneficiaries and associations in our country.

  • What are the very first things to be done when you become autonomous?

    Firstly, we had to appoint a Foundation Italy manager, and I was selected (fantastic!), because of my experience as a representative for many years. I then asked 5 former 'project leader' colleagues to join my team, which they agreed to do. I then selected the members for our board of directors, which was a tricky but important stage. To do this, I asked 6,000 Italian Decathlonians if they were interested in joining (or nominating someone to join) this board. I collected in all the applications and then made my choice. The Board is therefore composed of three internal members (our country manager, a department manager and a store sales assistant) and four external members. On 23 March, I saw our members assess the first few projects put forward, and they did a great job! We have a commission comprising a wide range of people with very varied professional and personal backgrounds. It’s brilliant! The next stage will be to create a network and communication system that is 100% Italian.

  • What are your hopes for the future?

    Our Foundation is already accomplishing wonderful things, but at the moment we’re unable to support all the projects that we’d like to. I hope that we'll be able to continue in this vein, creating more and more synergies with other partners in order to undertake increasingly ambitious projects that are capable of really turning around the lives of those we help, particularly by getting them back into work.

  • projet n.41
    "Sport is much stronger than the earthquake", Carpi. Objective: Co-fi nancing a part of the reconstruction of a football centre for young people. We installed portacabins to host sporting events at the Carpi Institute of Sacré-Coeur, following the earthquake that took place in May 2012.
  • projet n.42
    "Sports hall, Francesco foyer", Monza. Objective: Build and kit out a multi-purpose sports hall (fi tness, pilates, combat sports, dance, badminton) for kids, teenagers and adults who are handicapped or who have social problems.
  • projet n.43
    "The Parténope Arch", Campanie . Objective: Propose professional reinsertion opportunities to young people with criminal records, under the guidance of the Justice Centre for young off enders. Young people are trained to become boat skippers and boat maintenance staff (participation in buying equipment, spare parts and the equipment necessary to restore a ship called "Green Pepper").

The Decathlon Foundation: driving forward innovative, meaningful projects for the company and its stakeholders

The Foundation is a fully-fledged player in Decathlon’s CSR strategy, and also spearheads projects that extend beyond the scope of philanthropy.

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Immersion project, or how to improve the impact on society and the company.

For over a year, the Foundation and Decathlon India have been rolling out an inclusive business pilot scheme. The rationale underpinning this project is that just 15% of India’s population are in a position to be Decathlon store customers. How can we reach out to the other 85%? By studying these people in order to better understand their financial, social and cultural concerns, their barriers and their desires. Then we can devise ways of enhancing Decathlon’s social and societal impact in this fast-developing country.

30 team mates (chiefly from the Decathlon India team) working in different areas of the business then go to meet people living in 8 Indian villages of widely varying locations (slum, suburban village, rural village, etc.).

Following this immersion phase, team members are keen to identify innovative projects appropriate to these potential customers, thereby opening sport up to as many Indians as possible, through better identification of and response to their needs.

The 'Footprint' project: assessing and maximising the societal role played by a Decathlon store.

Calculating the company’s environmental footprint can reveal the ecological, economic and social impact that a Decathlon store has on a given area. This footprint highlights value creation levers with regard to five stakeholder groups (team mates, customers, subcontractors, environmental bodies and corporate stakeholders) and enables the implementation of strategies best suited to the challenges, expectations and developments within the local market.