New Balance is a $2.5 billion dollar footwear, apparel and accessories company that is rapidly expanding its global and retail footprint, while continuing to own and operate their own athletic shoe manufacturing facilities in the U.S and in Flimby, U.K. The company is committed to responsible leadership that involves giving back, moving the environment forward, and encouraging people inside and outside the company to be catalysts and coaches for change. New Balance is the only athletic shoe manufacturer still making shoes in U.S. factories; its U.S. workforce produced about 25% of New Balance shoes sold domestically.

The company has a long involvement in social responsibility, particularly in its relationships with its associates and the communities in which it operates. Over the past several decades, it has expanded the focus of its responsible leadership efforts to improve environmental performance in its products and operations, to set a high standard for social responsibility at contract manufacturing partner facilities, and to expand its philanthropic and community involvement efforts to communities it touches around the globe. In Spring 2012, New Balance released its first comprehensive Responsible Leadership Report, which Brown and Wilmanns Environmental helped prepare. The report provides readers with an in-depth look at responsible leadership performance along with the company’s vision and current initiatives for its global sustainability, social and community efforts.

Brown and Wilmanns Environmental worked with Christine Madigan, Vice President, Responsible Leadership for New Balance who led project. Our first task was to help Christine identify goals for the report, key audiences, and the relevant environmental and social responsibility indicators based on the Global Reporting Initiative guidelines. For New Balance, the report serves as a baseline by which the company can measure its future performance, an opportunity for New Balance associates to learn about the range and scope of responsible leadership activities, and a means for communicating with supplier partners and New Balance product users about the company’s direction and goals.

Our role included guiding the collection of data for the report, drafting report language, and helping select and measure key performance indicators along with short and long-term performance goals. A key difficulty for New Balance in moving forward on the report prior to Brown and Wilmanns Environmental’s involvement was the multiplicity of data management applications and decentralized responsibility for collecting and maintaining data relevant to responsible leadership performance. Based on our experience preparing other corporate social responsibility reports, we provided New Balance with a resource efficient strategy for collecting data specific to the metrics identified for inclusion in the report, suggested systems for institutionalizing data collection for future use, and conducted focused interviews with knowledgeable New Balance associates to augment the quantitative data. Brown and Wilmanns Environmental organized, managed, and analyzed the collected data and incorporated the data into the draft Responsible Leadership report.

Brown and Wilmanns Environmental also managed the internal review process for the report, identifying key reviewers, responding to comments and questions, and working with external graphic design and copy editors. Throughout the process of developing the report, Brown and Wilmanns Environmental provided advice and guidance to Christine and her colleagues on making the report useful for all audiences. We continue to provide ongoing guidance on key performance indicators and measuring progress towards goals.

For more information about Brown and Wilmanns Environmental’s work with New Balance please contact us at