Gap Inc. launches gender equity drive in global supply chain
Fashion and lifestyle group Gap Inc. has joined a new collaborative initiative to enhance the role of women and address gender equity throughout its global supply chain.
The company partnered with a collective of women and labour advocacy groups, including including Business for Social Responsibility, ILO-IFC Better Work, and CARE, to launch [email protected], a programme backed by Walmart and the Internartiona Center for Research on Women. Its aim will be to build and deploy initiatives that are “sustainable, systemic, and scalable” in positively impacting the lives of women in its supply chain, and ensuring workers feel valued and supported.
“Gap Inc. is proud to be a founding member of [email protected], recognising the opportunity it presents to reach millions of women with proven programming and tools they can use to uplift themselves and their families for generations to come,” said Mary Beth Laughton, President and CEO, Athleta.
Gap Inc. is the parent brand of fashion and lifestyle brands such as Gap, Athleta, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Intermix and more. Group net sales for 2020 reach $13.8bn.
Commitments for 2025
The company has also announced a broader commitment to invest in empowering women, laying out a roadmap for the next four years. By 2025, it says:
- 100% of strategic factories will be participating in [email protected]
- The Athleta and Gap brands have also committed 100% of their factories to participation in [email protected] by 2025
- 100% of strategic factories will have achieved gender parity at the supervisor level
- 100% of workers employed in strategic factories will have their voices heard through gender-equitable workplace committees
- 100% of factories will have prevention and response management systems and training to address gender-based violence
P.A.C.E programme picks up pace
These commitments follow previous gender equity programmes which, the company says, have successfully impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of women. To date, 800,000 women have completed Gap Inc.’s Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E) programme.
Launched in 2007, P.A.C.E was established to “unlock opportunities” for women working in the garment value chain, equipping them with life skills to improve both their professional and personal lives. Gap Inc. says that participants report higher self-esteem, are more confident in communicating and have improved financial literacy skills. It is on track to reach 1 million women by 2022.
Top image: Gap Inc.
Gartner: Women in supply chain at five-year high
Women now represent a greater percentage of the supply chain workforce than at any other point in at least the past five years, according to a recent Gartner survey.
The Women in Supply Chain Survey 2021, conducted by Gartner and Awesome, surveyed 223 supply chain organisations with more than $100m in annual revenue from February through to the end of March 2021.
- Women represent 2% more of supply chain workforce than in 2020
- Women now account for 42% of the workforce
- Number of women in exec-level positions declined by 2%
- Just 15% of top leadership are women (17% in 2020)
- 84% of organisations say COVID-19 did not impact efforts to advance women
It found that women now represent two per cent more of the supply chain workforce than in 2020, accounting for 42%, compared with 39% last year. Dana Stiffler, Vice President Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, says the impact of COVID-19 on supply chain was significant, though different to other sectors.
"Contrary to other industries, supply chain’s mission-criticality during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many sectors did not reduce their workforce, but rather continued to hire and even faced talent shortages, especially in the product supply chains," she said. "This resulted in many women not only standing their ground in supply chain organisations but increasing their representation in organisations. We also recorded a record number of specific commitments and supply chain-led actions and saw existing programs starting to pay off."
Supply chain still lacks women in executive leadership
But the elephant in the boardroom remains. Though the figures present a positive step towards greater diversity and gender equality at all levels, the number of women in executive level positions declined by two per cent in the past year. Women represent just 15% of the upper echelons of supply chain leadership. Gartner did however record a rise in women at all other levels of leadership.
The vast majority (84%) of organisations surveyed said the outbreak had no discernible impact on their ability to retain and advance women. But more than half (54%) admitted that retaining mid-career women was becoming increasingly difficult. A lack of career opportunities was cited as the biggest challenge to this, while other blamed a lack of development opportunities.
Despite these challenges, companies of all sizes are becoming broadly better at gender diversity. Around a third more said they had a targeted initiative focused on attracting women and advancing their careers.
Stiffler said a push towards measurable and formal initiatives is at least pointing in the right direction: “It's encouraging to see that the larger share of this jump was for more formal targets and specific goals on management scorecards. For these respondents, there is greater accountability for results — and we see the correlation with stronger representation and inclusion showing up in pipelines.”