“Inclusive, by design,” a phrase that guides Gap Inc.’s operations, is clear in its brand initiatives aimed at consumers, such as Old Navy’s Bodequality, an omnichannel shopping experience that aims to democratize its process. of fit, its prices and the way women of all shapes and sizes shop for fashion. However, its impact on its global supply chain underscores the company’s “multithreaded” approach to building a more sustainable future.

The phrase is “using the scale of our company and the influence of our brands to improve the lives of the people and the communities in which we operate,” according to Sally Gilligan, head of growth transformation at Gap Inc. “We are focused on how we empower women, create opportunities and enrich communities and the environment,” she wrote in the company’s new 2020 sustainability report.

Released Wednesday, the report reviews the social and environmental victories of the company’s family of brands, including Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta.

Aligning with the international agenda for sustainable development and guided by frameworks such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, the company touts achievements such as a 39% reduction in greenhouse gases. emissions in its owned and operated facilities and a 13% reduction in single-use plastic waste.

Brand by brand

Every brand is doing its part to contribute, and denim is leading the way.

As of summer 2021, 91% of Old Navy’s denim assortment incorporates water-saving techniques, with one billion liters of water saved so far, the report says. The brand is working to have 100% of its denim made with water-saving techniques by 2022. In the same year, Old Navy aims to source 100% cotton from sustainable sources while increasing the use of recycled cotton in denim products. .

For Gap, the Washwell program, an efficient washing system that has saved 402 million liters of water since 2016, continues to be the backbone of its sustainable denim line. At the end of 2020, 91% of eligible denims were in the Washwell program and Gap is on track to reach 100% by the end of this season, exceeding its target of 75%. In addition to renewing its commitment to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s jeans makeover, 2021 marked Gap’s involvement in the Textile Exchange’s 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge, which calls on clothing brands to collectively increase the percentage of polyester. recycled in industry from 14% in 2019 to 45% by 2025.

More than 60 percent of the materials used in Banana Republic’s 2020 collection came from more sustainable sources, including styles of denim “designed and built with recyclability in mind,” according to the report. Saving water has been a key effort for the brand. Banana Republic saved 19.99 million liters of water in 2020 and continues to explore innovative dye and wash methods to conserve water, including bio-softeners, foam dyes and Washwell techniques.

Certified B Corp Athleta “Has Made Substantial Progress Against Its Earliest Sustainability Goals” By Incorporating A North Carolina-Based Solar Farm To Offset 100% Of Its Operational Footprint In The United States

The power of the people

Gap Inc. said it was on track to meet its 2022 goal of reaching one million women and girls through the Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (PACE) program it created in 2007. Working in supplier facilities, PACE provides women with basic skills. , technical training and support to progress at work and in their lives.

While covid has restricted Gap’s ability to conduct in-person training programs, the impact of the program in 2020 resulted in an 81% increase in communication skills and a 75% increase in financial literacy skills among students. participants, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the Gap Foundation has become a founding partner and investor in the new Resilience Fund for Women in Global Value Chains. Described as a “one-of-a-kind fundraising initiative,” it was created to support recovery from a pandemic and advance long-term systemic changes that strengthen the resilience of women and communities. The fund seeks to pool investments from multiple sources to support local women-led organizations, improve learning and achieve better results.

The company’s partnership with the ILO Better Work has helped set up programs to improve worker representation and management participation at all levels. It uses a color coded system to assess the performance of each installation, with high performing installations with “no criticism and few infractions” classified in green; average interpreters marked yellow; and those who need to solve one or more serious problems are marked in red.

“In 2020, we have almost reached our goal of only working with installations classified as yellow or green; only 1% of installations were rated red, up from 16% in 2017 when we set the target, ”said Gap Inc., adding that“ every facility has its own issues at some point, which can lead to a drop in of the red note. . “Under such circumstances, the company said it is providing corrective action plans to resolve any issues.

Gap Inc. is also working to help amplify the voice of workers in its supply chain. By 2025, he wants 100% of workers employed in strategic factories to have access to “representative and gender-equitable working committees”. All factories will have prevention and response management systems and training in place to tackle gender-based violence by 2025 as well.

“Over the years, we have regularly assessed the facilities we work with and found serious violations related to gender-based discrimination and harassment, but we recognize that it is not enough to rely solely on the audit to detect and fix these problems, ”Gap Inc. said.

Gap Inc.’s India PACE Program
Courtesy

Equality efforts

In 2020, Gap Inc. refined its approach to talent development by launching This Way Onward, a hiring program that “tackles systemic barriers to employment by providing opportunities for young people” with structured training and support. valuable first job experience.

Launched with Old Navy, the report says This Way Onward surpassed its 2020 hiring target with 912 new in-store hires, 90% of whom identify as people of color. The program also supports Gap Inc.’s goal of equality and belonging to achieve diverse representation in its pipeline. The company is committed to doubling the representation of black and Latinx employees at all levels in its U.S. headquarters offices by 2025 and increasing the representation of black employees in leadership roles by 50%. store in the United States.

The hardships brought on by the pandemic were felt in every retail business, and Gap Inc.’s stores were no different. The company created the Selvage Fund, which provides cash grants to employees facing unemployment and other financial fallout. The fund has provided over $ 840,000 in relief grants to over 1,600 Gap Inc. staff by December 2020.

Responsible manufacturing

From water management to chemicals management, the report highlights the steps Gap Inc. is taking to embed sustainability into product design and protect the planet by partnering with business organizations, for purpose. nonprofit, government and community.

Through a Factory Sustainability Program, Gap Inc. is committing to three industry-wide efforts to help meet its sustainability goals: the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC ) and the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP).

Such partnerships, according to the report, have helped the company surpass its 2020 target by 1.3 billion liters of saving 10 billion liters of water with textile mills and wet processing partners by 1.3 billion liters. .

By the end of 2020, all of Gap Inc.’s manufacturing facilities and 70% of its strategic factories had completed the Higg Index self-assessment to report their water and energy use and management of chemicals and waste. A total of 280 establishments verified their responses, according to the report.

In 2020, the company developed an in-house wet dyeing, finishing and processing toolkit to “empower cross-functional teams to assess new opportunities and make informed decisions.” The toolkit supports compliance with Gap Inc.’s MRSL, RSL, and wastewater testing policies, as well as additional guidance on performance finishes and colorants.

One of Gap Inc.’s long-term goals is to achieve carbon neutrality across its entire value chain by 2050. Part of this effort includes “exploring climate adaptation strategies that can mitigate the financial and physical impacts of climate change while strengthening the resilience of businesses and communities. »For partners. The other party invests in renewable energy for its globally owned and operated facilities. The company’s goal is to have all facilities running on renewable electricity by 2030.

With 2020 being a year that has seen consumers reassess their purchasing behavior and their own impact on the environment, circularity has taken on even more importance. In addition to Gap and Banana Republic who launched circular denim collections, the company donated 6 million units of excess inventory to clothing charities. The year also marked Banana Republic’s first 12 months in the clothing rental business. The brand launched its Style Passport program, a subscription service whereby U.S. customers receive three items at a time and have the option of renting and returning them or buying their favorites.

And although Gap Inc. is in the clothing business, plastic remains a hot topic. In addition to diverting 13% of its single-use plastic waste, the company has set new folding standards to reduce plastic packaging and cut shipping costs by $ 13 million and increased the recycled content in its bags. 35% to 50% polyethylene. Old Navy has expanded its hanger recycling program to 600 stores, which will divert 2.2 million pounds of plastic from landfills each year. The program will be extended to all stores by the end of 2021.


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