CEO Letter

CEO Letter Good business can change the world

When Doris and Don Fisher opened the first Gap store in San Francisco in 1969, they didn’t expect to transform retail. They just couldn’t find a pair of good jeans that fit. From that single store to today’s global business, Gap Inc. is synonymous with equality, community and laid-back American style. Good business – the kind that puts people at its center – has the potential to change the world, no matter how small it starts.

Art Peck talking with This Way Ahead participants

Good business—the kind that puts people at its center—has the potential to change the world, no matter how small it starts.

Our success depends on people:  the ones who design, make and sell our products, and the ones who buy them.

At Gap Inc., we still sell good jeans, and we still believe in good business. We’re also part of a world that’s changed a lot since 1969. Today, customers expect more from a product. They want to know the story behind it. Where did it come from? Who made it? Was it created in a fair, safe and environmentally responsible way? What was the impact on people and the planet?

We owe it to our customers to ask ourselves those same questions. Some of the answers have brought us back to our core values, and some have compelled us to find new solutions and build new partnerships. Gap Inc. is one of the world’s leading global apparel retailers. Our global scale affords us the opportunity and responsibility to make business more sustainable, not just within our own company, but across the industry as well. Addressing the apparel industry’s systemic challenges is a big job, so we’re collaborating with suppliers, governments, NGOs, multilateral organizations and industry leaders to find solutions that work. Our success depends on our people: the ones who design, make and sell our products, and the ones who buy them.

To see this progress in action, you can visit Gap and buy a pair of Gap for Good denim, made with 20% less water than conventional manufacturing methods, saving nearly 65 million liters of water per year, or about as much water as the city of San Francisco consumes every day. By 2021, 100% of the cotton you buy from Gap will be more sustainably sourced.

 

You can go to Athleta for clothing designed by and for women athletes, and activewear made from organic cotton and recycled polyester. By 2020, 80% of Athleta’s materials will be made with sustainable fibers.

You can go into one of our flagship Old Navy, Gap, or Banana Republic stores and there’s a good chance you’ll meet a graduate of This Way Ahead, our job training and paid internship program for 16-24 year olds from low income communities. By 2025, 5% of our entry-level sales associates will be hired through This Way Ahead – that’s thousands of young people helping to shape the future of our company. 

You can travel to one of the factories we partner with, and you’ll meet one of the 65,000 graduates of P.A.C.E., Gap Inc.’s life skills and education program. By 2020, one million women from factories and communities around the world will have completed the program. That’s one million women with greater confidence, new skills and a brighter future. 

 

By 2025, 5% of our entry-level sales associates will be hired through This Way Ahead. 

Cooperative relationships between factory workers and managers are good for business, plain and simple.

If you can’t travel to one of these factories, you can go to www.gapincsustainability.com and see a published list of all our suppliers. You can also learn about our partnerships with organizations like ILO Better Work, Verité, and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. With them, we’re working to improve our supply chain and amplify the voices of garment workers. Cooperative relationships between factory workers and managers are good for business, plain and simple. 

We’ve made good progress. I’m proud of this work. But there’s so much more we need to do. And it’s not just about the clothes we make, it’s about our impact on the world we live in. The human and environmental threat of climate change is more present than ever, and we need bold action from communities, companies and customers to move towards a low-carbon economy. 

By 2020, we’re reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions from our global owned and operated facilities by 50%, and we’re diverting 80% of our waste from landfill for our U.S. facilities. To make that happen, we’re monitoring our energy use, pursuing new approaches to increase efficiency, and looking for ways to reduce waste and save money in the process.

We’re in a time of great transition, from a changing retail landscape to a changing climate, but there’s one thing that hasn’t changed since 1969: good people make good business. While much work lies ahead of us, our collective commitment to action will not waver. Ultimately, our customers are the ones with the real power to change the world, every time they purchase more sustainable, humane and responsible products. Thanks to them, we’re facing the future with creativity, vision and a clear sense of purpose. 

 

Art Peck
CEO, Gap Inc.