Working for Greater Equality and Opportunity
Working for Greater Equality and Opportunity By standing up for all of us, we become a voice for each of us
When Doris and Don Fisher founded our company in 1969, they made history not just by offering a new way to buy jeans, but by working as equal partners. At a time when women were often limited to taking a back seat to men, Doris stood right alongside Don in opening our first store and running our business – and together, they established a commitment to equality that continues to inspire and guide us today.
To us, celebrating individual style goes hand-in-hand with having deep respect for every individual. One of our core beliefs is that we can only thrive in a world in which all people have the chance to do the same. And by working to live up to the standard of equality set by our founders, we can unlock limitless possibilities – both for the people touched by our business and for our company.
By paying women equitably, raising the minimum wage and speaking out against discrimination, we believe we can help create greater equality for all of us.
When we pay people fairly and treat our employees with dignity and respect, they are inspired to be their best. In turn, they provide us with a stronger pool of talent and help us deliver better products and experiences to our customers. When our business succeeds and grows, we can support even more employees and become a stronger voice for equality and human rights beyond Gap Inc. As one of the world’s largest apparel retailers, we see an opportunity to stand alongside others and work toward greater fairness for everyone. By taking a public position on these issues – for example, by calling for equal pay for women and an end to discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community – we can help to shape a broader conversation and create cultural change.
Supporting opportunity for women – inside and outside Gap Inc.
We were grateful to receive the 2016 Catalyst Award for Gap Inc.’s culture of equality, inclusion, and opportunity. Catalyst selected Gap Inc. for our leadership on equal pay for women, strong representation of women at all levels, and dedication to advancing women, including our employees, customers, and the people touched by our business around the world.
Catalyst recognized that women have profoundly shaped who we are. Women made up 74 percent of our worldwide employee base in 2014. We’re proud that women serve as a majority of our global store managers (73 percent), and comprise a majority of our senior leadership. Eight of our company’s eleven senior leadership team members are women, and four of our five brands are currently led by women.
We know that these women are in their roles because they happen to be the best people for the job – and have the right to be treated equally to their male counterparts. In 2015, we engaged a third party to verify and became the first Fortune 500 company to disclose that we pay female and male employees equally for equal work – whether dollar for dollar, pound for pound, yen for yen, or euro for euro. This is far from a given. In the U.S., for example, a woman makes 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. National Equal Pay Day represents how far into the current year many women must work in order to close the gap from their previous year’s earnings. We were pleased to confirm that women and men at Gap Inc. are paid equally – but our ambition went even further. By making a public statement about this issue, we hope to encourage other companies to follow suit, thereby bringing about broader change.
To us, celebrating individual style goes hand-in-hand with having deep respect for every individual.
“I started out with Gap Inc. 24 years ago, working as an associate store manager, and now feel fortunate to stand with three other women leaders of our brands. For Gap Inc., honoring equality and the value of every individual is not just part of our company’s DNA, it makes us a better company.”
Likewise, in 2014 we were one of 10 companies to sign onto the “She Works” Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to enhance job opportunities for women around the world. Led by the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, this partnership seeks to create new jobs for more than 300,000 women over two years. As part of our commitment, we signed the Women’s Empowerment Principles, developed by UN Women and the United Nations Global Compact. Designed to offer practical guidance to business, the principles cover such areas as women’s professional development and the need to publicly report on progress about gender equality.
Beyond these steps, we made a commitment that members of our senior leadership, including our CEO, Art Peck, would speak publicly at least twice a year about the importance of women’s employment as a smart business strategy. We strongly believe that our commitment to equality for women gives us a competitive advantage, helping us attract top talent, increase engagement and retention and connect with our customers, a majority of whom are women around the world.
For these reasons, creating opportunity for women is not just deeply embedded in our culture, but integrated into our business. In 2007, for example, we launched our P.A.C.E. program to help the women who make our clothes gain the skills and confidence to advance both at work and in life. In September 2015, we announced a major expansion of P.A.C.E., with the goal of reaching one million women throughout the world by 2020. The women of P.A.C.E. have created change not just for themselves, but their families and communities – and in turn they have helped to strengthen our company in a number of ways.
Raising hourly wages – and sparking broader change
We have taken action on other issues in the past year when we felt we could make a make a difference, not just within Gap Inc. but more broadly, through the connections that link all of us in working toward greater equality. In early 2014, we announced that we would raise the minimum hourly wage for over 60,000 Gap Inc. employees, a step we hoped would help individual people while strengthening our business, enabling us to attract top talent, help our employees perform at their best, and increase productivity and retention.
We also saw an opportunity to make a public statement that could help spark more widespread change. At the time of our announcement, hourly wages were a charged political issue, and we wanted to demonstrate that the private sector could be part of forging solutions. Our pay increase attracted significant media attention, as well as a call out by President Barack Obama – and since then, a number of other companies have increased their minimum hourly wages as well.
We led our industry and raised the minimum wage to $10 for over 60,000 U.S. employees in 2015.
Speaking out against discrimination
Earlier this year, we spoke out about another issue that did not involve Gap Inc. directly but we viewed as affecting the lives of all of us – from our employees to our customers to our business partners to our fellow citizens. Like others, we felt concerned by a wave of legislation being introduced in a variety of states that would allow for discrimination against members of the LGBT community. These bills would permit individuals and businesses to use religion to challenge or opt out of laws that protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, business and public accommodations.
We believe that none of us enjoys real equality unless all of us do – and inclusion is a core principle that shapes our identity as a company as well as how we run our business. We were inspired to add our voice to a rising chorus of protest against these laws. Our CEO, Art Peck, joined the CEO of Levi Strauss, Chip Bergh, to write an open letter “calling on retail and apparel companies, and other businesses, to join us in speaking out against legalized discrimination.” The letter called the legislation being passed in Indiana and other states not just bad for business, but “fundamentally wrong,” and concluded, “At Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co., we are proud to say we are open to business for everyone.”
In the wake of online campaigns and boycotts against Indiana after passage of its law last March, state legislators began talking about making an amendment to protect the LGBT community. Ultimately, they added language barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time in Indiana’s history. For us, this experience underscored what can be accomplished when people come together – and how as a company we are linked, through our beliefs and actions, to so many others.
We feel extremely fortunate that some of our brands are among the most recognized in the world – and along with this status comes responsibility. Individuality and equality lie at the heart of what we do as a company. Every piece of clothing starts with someone’s creative vision, and it winds up being worn as part of someone else’s personal expression. We know that we can only succeed in a world in which every person is respected as both unique and equally valued. As a company, we will continue to work to live up to this vision of equality, one that ties us to our roots and also inspires us to look forward and find new ways to create positive change.
We believe none of us enjoys real equality unless all of us do – and inclusion is a core principle that shapes our identity as well as how we run our business.