Decathlon Foundation: access to employment through sport

“Reducing inequalities and paying special attention to vulnerable populations” is a global challenge and the 10th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal . True to the Decathlon purpose and values, the Foundation has been supporting teammates who wish to donate their time and energy to sport-based employment projects since 2005.

The efforts funded by the Foundation help people in difficulty by promoting equal opportunity, tolerance, and inclusive social and economic development.

By using sport to drive access to employment, the Foundation is clearly illustrating how teammates are motivated to become more involved. The teams receive in-country coaching that prepares them to work independently to select and approve their own local projects in line with the Foundation’s mission. By focusing on the local dimension, these projects foster close ties between the participating teams and the beneficiaries.

The Foundation is an integral part of Decathlon’s corporate social responsibility approach. In 2017 we followed through on our efforts to maximise the social impact of our stores in India by ramping up the project launched in 2015.

Les chiffres clés de la fondation
en 2017

2017 Summary

The Foundation is conducting a study of our regional impact in India.

Foundation teams in Brazil have grown and acquired the autonomy to set up their own local committees.

Changing people’s lives by making them more employable

In 2015 the Foundation’s mission was modified to focus on helping people re-enter the workforce. The work of the Decathlon project sponsors involves introducing their beneficiaries to the joys and benefits of sport and providing practical support to help them find work (help writing CVs, conducting mock interviews, and presentations on jobs with a view to internships, work-study placements, and temporary and permanent employment contracts) at an organisation of their choosing. This is how the Decathlon Foundation promotes diversity, including within our own teams

The Foundation's international activities: Focus on our project in India

In 2014 the Decathlon teams launched their efforts to develop a win-win solution that would keep pace with the changes in the booming Indian market, recognising that less than 15% of the local population could afford to shop in one of our Decathlon stores. Bearing this in mind, the Immersion project came into being with the aim of helping Decathlon make a positive impact on society and furthering the development of teammates and future users.

A study on our regional impact in India was initiated in November 201430 in the city of Bangalore, with support from the Decathlon Foundation and an outside firm.

Around 30 Decathlon team members  were assigned to eight different locations (rural, suburban, slums, etc.) for the project. The teammates met with over 400 people ranging in age from nine to 50 years old.

This innovative experiment enabled us to observe local playing fields, assess the needs of local populations, perform product tests, introduce people to new types of sport and hold sporting events. The goal was to share the universal values of sport and at the same time meet the needs of India’s growing middle class.

These efforts involved local populations in a project known as Sports for Schoolchildren, co-developed and launched as part of the sport curriculum by schools in India, in hopes of improving the lives of people in local communities and providing access to sport for children of all ages. As a result, by 2020 there will be 55 stores in India sponsoring programmes to promote sport in nearby schools with support from the Decathlon Foundation.

Sports for School Children involves a one-hour commitment once a week, working with children from a government school or an NGO. The project volunteers are members of our stores teams who want to share their passion for sport and community development.

The main goal of the programme is to use sport to bring about changes in social behaviour and to help children develop life skills, such as leadership, team building, discipline, engagement and achievement, to build a better society and to find growth opportunities for the marginalised communities around our stores and factories. Decathlon works with a variety of NGOs and partners to develop professional skills and create employment opportunities for beneficiaries.

Annie George
Annie George
Communications and Sustainable Development Leader for India and Head of the Sports for School Children Programme
Fabio Siqueira
The Foundation's international activities illustrating Brazil’s autonomy
Meeting with Fabio Siqueira

Foundation Leader in Brazil

Can you explain what it means for Brazil to work autonomously on Foundation projects?
We have been working with Jean-Pierre Haemmerlein (founder of the international Decathlon Foundation) and other Foundation members since 2016 to learn about, understand and structure the processes for guiding, analysing and approving Foundation projects directly in Brazil. In 2017 the first committee was created in Brazil with input and support from the Foundation teams, who have helped us prepare to work autonomously as we develop our own committees.
How were projects approved in 2017?
The Brazilian office of the Foundation has handled nine projects since it began and seven of these are still active. In 2017 we received 13 project proposals and four of these were approved. The first stage of the selection process involves working with the Project Managers to coordinate, structure and plan the project. When the project is ready to be presented, the Project Managers contact the committee for review. If the project is approved, it is presented to the national committee. In 2017 the committee was made up of Cédric Burel (Decathlon Brazil Director), Anita Malavasi (Foundation member in Brazil), Gwenaëlle Maître (an outside professional and social projects specialist in Brazil) and myself (Foundation Leader in Brazil) 35.
What are the Foundation’s future projects for Brazil?
We have had a team of seven volunteers from the Foundation since 2017. We are working to present the Foundation more effectively within the company, to monitor and assist with active and inactive projects, and to guide and support new Project Managers. We want to improve our processes, promote new project development and build stronger connections between active projects and the Decathlon spirit by hiring those who participate in our community projects and improving their job skills.