Does the shoe fit? DSW vs. Foot Locker

Shoes. Not so much a practicality in our fashion-conscious age as a burgeoning addiction: 24.2 billion pairs were manufactured in 2018 alone, and the industry’s revenue is predicted to hit $500 billion by 2027. 

But as we slip them on our feet and prepare to go out, do we ever really consider the carbon ‘footprint’ they’ve already stamped on the environment? How do we hold these mega shoe companies accountable? We’ve tried to break down these two known major companies and what your next purchase will support?


Why you should trust us

At Ethically, we compile scores from over 700 verified sources to create a granular profile of more than 10,000 companies and brands, evaluating their impact on the environment, society at large, and good business. You can learn more about Ethically’s process in our Methodology and you can see the scores yourself by downloading the Ethically browser extension.

The companies


Designer Brands Inc. is an American company that sells designer and name brand shoes and fashion accessories. It owns the Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) store chain, and operates over 500 stores in the United States and an e-commerce website.The company also owns private-label footwear brands including Audrey Brooke, Kelly & Katie, Lulu Townsend, and Poppie Jones.

Foot Locker 

Foot Locker Retail, Inc. is an American sportswear and footwear retailer, with its headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, and operating in 28 countries.Although established in 1974, and founded as a separate company in 1988, Foot Locker’s roots date to 1879, as it is a successor corporation to the F. W. Woolworth Company (“Woolworth’s”), as many of its freestanding stores were originally Kinney Shoes and Woolworth’s locations. The company operates the eponymous “Foot Locker” chain of athletic footwear retail outlets (along with “Kids Foot Locker” and “Lady Foot Locker” stores)

Scores Overview

These two companies are very close when it comes to their ESG measurements. There are few slight differences that make one company’s score a tad higher than the other. 
Overall, DSW scored a 48/100 and Footlocker scored a 50/100. The differences that give Foot Locker a score advantage over DSW are highlighted in the three major score categories.

Let’s dive in (Reminder, check out our Methodology for definitions on each of these subtopic scores)

Impact on the environment

Impact on the environment relates to how a company or brand impacts the natural world around us. This could be related to the products they create, their manufacturing policies, or even their corporate response to climate change. DSW and Footlocker both impact the environment in a number of ways, from their manufacturing policies to the products they produce. Below are more details comparing these two companies. 


Score: 48

Foot Locker

Score: 47


DSW has a one point advantage over Foot Locker, with the environment score being 48 to 47. These scores will largely have to do with their compliance with environmental regulations, energy efficient operations and development of renewable energy and alternative environmental technologies. 

Upon further examination within the score category, DSW scored a 58/100 in Energy & Climate change, a 38/100 in Environment Policy & Reporting and a 48/100 in Resource Management. On the other hand, Foot Locker scored a 59/100 in Energy & Climate change, a 35/100 in Environment Policy & Reporting and a 46/100 in Resource Management.

Impact on social responsibility

Social responsibility includes all the things that make a company “good”. Whether that’s giving back to the community, standing up for equal rights, treating workers fairly. DSW and Foot Locker both have a number of policies around LGBTQ+ rights, community outreach, and equal pay and rights for all.


Score: 47

Foot Locker

Score: 51 


Another slight distinction can be noted within the Social Responsibility category, where DSW scores a 47/100 and Foot Locker scores a 51/100. 

The major differences were the respective companies’ Diversity and Labor rights rankings DSW: 49 vs. Foot Locker: 53, Training, Health & Safety rankings DSW: 47 vs. Foot Locker: 50 and Compensation with DSW: 46 vs. Foot Locker: 49 score.

Quality of corporate governance

Corporate governance is much like social responsibility, but for how the company operates internally. Do they have a diverse board? Is there transparency in accounting? Are they doing what they need to do to survive and operate in an ethical and correct manner? DSW and Under Armour both are large public companies with shareholders and boards they answer to.


Score: 47

Foot Locker

Score: 53


The most significant difference in scoring between both companies’ is in the Governance ranking, where DSW scores a 47/100 and Foot Locker scores a 53/100. These scores refer to leadership structure and the values that determine corporate direction, ethics and performance.

Upon double clicking the score, Foot Locker pulls away from DSW in the rankings of Board (60 vs 48) and in Transparency & Reporting (49 vs 42). In the Leadership & Ethics category, the scoring is very close, DSW: 51 and Foot Locker: 50.


Ethically partners with CSRHub as a primary data source, which in turn, aggregates over 700 data sources, compiling them into simple, easy to digest grades. 

Foot Locker’s score is slightly higher than DSW’s. As observed throughout the comparisons, DSW lacks behind in certain areas like social responsibility and governance. The environment aspect of both companies can both equally improve to show a more eco-friendly identity.

If you want to stay up to date on how these stores are progressing with their scores, make sure you download Ethically. We pull data regularly to make sure our scores reflect how companies are doing today, not years ago.

As always, please check out our Methodology page for more details on how we get our ratings data.

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