P.A.C.E. - Changing One Million Lives

PACE Changing one million lives

P.A.C.E. - Changing One Million Lives The women of P.A.C.E. each have a story

Clearly expressing a point of view. Reframing problems as opportunities. Managing a budget and taking steps to be healthier. Believing in yourself.

The Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program launched to teach the women who make our clothes critical skills for navigating life both at work and at home. The coursework and discussions, now offered to women in community settings as well, unlock new possibilities, shifting perceptions of themselves and their abilities. As a result, many women say that P.A.C.E. has helped them become more confident, leading them to set bigger goals and successfully work to achieve them. Inspired by these results, the program is expanding even further to reach adolescent girls (11-17) in community settings around the world. 

More than 65,000 women in 16 countries have participated in the program since we launched P.A.C.E. in 2007.

More than 65,000 women in 16 countries have participated in the program since we launched P.A.C.E. in 2007 – and in September of 2015, we announced our commitment to expand the program to reach one million women and girls around the world by end of 2020.

Women who have participated in P.A.C.E. have stories to tell about change that are as unique as they are. One worked up the courage to give a speech during the program, gaining a sense of pride she had never experienced. Another realized that she could make a difference by telling other women about her experience with breast cancer, inspiring them to do self-exams and stay healthy. And yet another learned to better manage her family's finances, successfully reaching her goal to build her dream house with her husband and two daughters. 


At a glance P.A.C.E.
P.A.C.E. Video

These individual stories are linked to a bigger one as well – about the connections between us that support all of us in reaching our fullest potential. When we help the women who make our clothes and others who lack opportunities build their skills and confidence, they can work toward their goals and become a catalyst for change in their families and communities. When they bring their enhanced abilities to their work inside garment factories, they enable us to deliver better products to our customers – and more broadly, they help to create thriving communities in which our business, too, can thrive. P.A.C.E. also connects the people who make our clothes with the people who buy them. When customers buy our clothes, they support our ability to create opportunities for even more women to advance. 

These connections are why our CEO, Art Peck, has said that P.A.C.E. not only advances women but also propels our business, thereby making it more sustainable for the long term. In addition to creating a workforce with more skills, P.A.C.E. enhances the productivity and performance of our suppliers and deepens the sense of meaning and purpose among our employees. On September 28, 2015, Art announced the expansion of P.A.C.E. at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York; two days later, nearly 500 employees gathered in Times Square to unveil an art installation celebrating women in the program. 

Providing up to 80 hours of classroom learning

P.A.C.E. has its roots in a question that started us on one of the most rewarding journeys in our history: How could our business provide new opportunities to the women who make our clothes? We explored who they are, what their lives are like, and what would enable them to create change – for themselves, their families and their communities. Even though eighty percent of garment workers worldwide are women, living in a wide range of countries including India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia and China, relatively few advance to higher-level positions. Many have the capacity to do so but have lacked access to education and the chance to acquire the skills they need for professional and personal growth. 

Creating opportunities for women is a natural fit for our company. 74 percent of our employees are women, and so are over 70 percent of our senior leadership team, including four of our five brand leaders. As Art put it when he announced our P.A.C.E. expansion, “We’re very committed to investing in women as a force around the globe.” 

Students and teacher in PACE class

“It’s not an aspiration,” our CEO, Art Peck, said of reaching one million women through P.A.C.E. “It’s not a goal, and it’s not an ambition. It’s a commitment. We will do this.”

P.A.C.E. teaches critical skills for navigating life both at work and at home – from clearly expressing a point of view to managing a budget to reframing problems as opportunities. We designed P.A.C.E. with two partners with a deep understanding of the needs of the women we aim to serve:  Swasti Health Resource Centre, an international organization focused on public health outcomes for those who are socially excluded or poor, and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), a global institute dedicated to empowering women. CARE has served as a key implementing partner for the program.

Together, we created a comprehensive curriculum that includes 65-80 hours of classes in as many as eight subject areas, such as communication skills, time and stress management, problem solving and decision-making, financial literacy and more. The curriculum is customized for each program and each geographic location. For the P.A.C.E. program offered to the women who make our clothes, the classes are held on site at factories with the support of faculty provided by our suppliers and include role-plays, exercises and open discussion. Beyond teaching women tangible skills, P.A.C.E. shifts how many see themselves and their abilities. 

Documenting our impact

To ensure that we are being effective, we believe it is critical that we evaluate how the program is working. In 2013, ICRW published a report based on evaluations conducted from 2009 to 2013 at six factories where P.A.C.E. had been implemented in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China. It found that participants in the program felt they had greater confidence and stronger communication skills, and had learned the importance of goal setting and managing their finances. 

Overall, the share of participants reporting high self-esteem rose 49 percent by the end of the program, while the share of those reporting high self-efficacy – or a person’s belief in their ability to produce desired results through their actions – increased 150 percent. ICRW has also tracked the long-term impact of P.A.C.E. through a follow-up study of some of the first group of participants in India. It found that gains from the program have not just been sustained over time, but deepened, as the women applied what they learned both at work and at home, and they were able to transfer this knowledge to other women and family members. ICRW continues to evaluate the program as it expands to new countries and settings.

Women in P.A.C.E. classroom

Overall, the share of P.A.C.E. participants reporting high self-esteem rose 49 percent, while those with high self-efficacy – or belief in their ability to produce desired results through their actions – increased 150 percent.

The documented business benefits of P.A.C.E. also support the program’s long-term sustainability. ICRW has found greater work efficacy among participants, such as the ability to take initiative and demonstrate their abilities, as well as greater influence in the workplace through stronger relationships, effective communication and other skills. Our suppliers, who have partnered with us by investing in running the program, have expanded on these findings. Conducting their own research on how P.A.C.E. impacts their business, they have documented lower absenteeism, increased efficiency and higher productivity. In Cambodia, for example, retention rates were 66 percent higher for P.A.C.E. participants than other workers. And at a factory in India, productivity was 15 percent higher for P.A.C.E. participants.

These findings were reinforced by an academic study based on a randomized controlled trial in five garment factories in Bangalore, India, operated by Shahi Exports, a Gap Inc. supplier. Three thousand workers participated in the trial, with 1,000 selected to participate in P.A.C.E. and the others serving as a control group. The study found significant gains in efficiency among the P.A.C.E. participants, along with cost savings for Shahi and personal benefits to the workers. The research showed the through gains in attendance and productivity, P.A.C.E. can generate a positive return on the company's investment. 

Expanding P.A.C.E. to one million women

The benefits of P.A.C.E. to multiple stakeholders encouraged us to innovate further by expanding on the program’s design and delivery. Working with Swasti and CARE, we began offering P.A.C.E. in community settings in 2013 to support even more women outside the factory environment. We are now enhancing our approach even further as we work to achieve our goal to reach one million women throughout the world by end of 2020. 

At the core of P.A.C.E. is the belief that every woman in the program is connected to many more people – whether in her workplace, her family, her community and even far from her home – and this power of connection is also guiding how we think about expanding the program’s reach. Because we believe that new collaborations hold the key to bringing P.A.C.E. to more women, we are committed to partnering with other companies, industry leaders, non-governmental organizations, development agencies, funders and others. To support our new partners, we will provide them with training and access to the P.A.C.E. curriculum. 

And we are working to deliver P.A.C.E. to a much broader base of participants. Building on our factory and community programs, we are creating a suite of learning programs that will include a new offering for adolescent girls between the ages of 13-17, as well as a new women’s leadership curriculum that builds on our factory program. Both are designed to meet the needs of women and girls wherever they are in their lives. For younger participants, P.A.C.E. will provide life skills education at a critical time in their personal development, when it could change the trajectory of their lives. For women in the leadership program, P.A.C.E. will offer the chance to deepen their development by focusing on such areas as managing vision and purpose, influencing others, driving for results, and leading change. 

We began offering P.A.C.E. in community settings in 2013 to support women outside the factory environment. We are now enhancing our approach even further to reach one million women throughout the world by end of 2020.

Women in classroom

From the earliest days of Gap Inc., our founders, Doris and Don Fisher, had a vision to create opportunities for the people touched by our business. Through P.A.C.E., we have now seen how this vision unlocks an endless loop of possibilities, as women who gain access to education change not just their own lives, but those of many others. P.A.C.E. has taught us valuable lessons – about what it takes to create social innovation and bring it to scale – but most of all it has inspired us about the potential for business to join with others to help people everywhere advance their lives.