Generally, New Balance has done a brilliant job in all aspects. Especially in the aspects of operations and community involvement, it has provided leadership for the apparel industry. Although currently some weaknesses exist, New balance should seize the opportunities and take the responsibility to be a sustainable leader in entire industry.
First, for the overall governance, New Balance should committed to being responsible for its employees and the committees. The company should inspire an engaged and committed workforce, and build an emotional bond with athletic consumers.
However, there several aspects that the New Balance should enhance or focus on. Communication seems to be the key obstacle. New balance should be more transparent and report, and makes CSR initiatives better connected. Also, the lack of clear leadership appears to be another obstacle, missing of senior-level champion makes the developing of CSR barely impossible. Current definition and organization of RL are not cleared. A clear framework was needed to identify the risks and opportunities of CSR.
Second, in the respect of the products and services, company should be very powerful on the market. Social and environmental improvements should be carried out with business benefits through its products and services. For example, green product lines should be adopted. Also, dangerous materials and harmful substance should be eliminated or forbidden.
While, the link between products & services and CRS seems to be vague, New Balance should increase the impact of environmental and social initiatives on generating business benefits. For both footwear and apparel, evaluation of the life-cycle impacts is absence; for the apparel division, sources are limited and the business growth pressure is extremely high. More effort should be putted on new materials together with their performance, especially the environmental-friendly ones. Moreover, recycles of its own products should be improved by developing industry collaboration and cooperating with other manufacturers.
Third, during operations, integration of CSR should be developed both in domestic and overseas. Initiatives should demonstrate clear business value. Reducing costs, increasing productivity should be implemented together with improving worker safety and morale. Besides being responsible in domestic, New Balance should also guarantee the qualities of product and conditions for workers in overseas factories.
The two big challenges are the gap between the footwear division compared to apparel, accessories and promotional items, and the gap between CSR management in domestic operations and supplier facilities overseas.
Lastly, it is about supporting the community. The company should be the leader in both philanthropy and volunteering. Employees should be strongly involved in volunteering. In addition, community involvement strategies should be aligned with business strategy.
There are still some weakness in the last respect. New balance should better leverage its strong community involvement culture to cooperate with business strategies. Rather than containing all respects, the community strategy should be more specific and more globalized.