Our Sustainability Strategy

Our Sustainability Strategy A commitment to widespread change

As Doris and Don Fisher built Gap Inc., they imagined a company that would also create opportunities for the people and communities touched by their business. In the decades since, we have been on a journey to realize this vision.  

We strive to ensure that the people who make our products work in safe, fair conditions. We are committed to minimizing our environmental footprint. And we are dedicated to supporting the communities where we operate. We do this by collaborating throughout our value chain and across government, business and civil society to address systemic challenges. We also seek to engage our employees and customers across all our brands in our effort to build a more sustainable world.

Gap Inc. leaders visiting factory

Our aim is to reimagine the way

business can change the world.

As one of the leading apparel retailers, we rely on a world where people and the environment thrive. Like other global businesses, we recognize that we contribute to and have the opportunity to address systemic social and environmental challenges. We are committed to augmenting business value, minimizing our environmental impact and working with all sectors to achieve progress on global goals.

That’s why we have aligned our sustainability strategy with the United Nations (UN) Global Sustainable Development Agenda. Frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change have established a foundation that informs how business can contribute value to the planet and society. Using the global agenda as our guide, we have identified issues that are the most material to our business, and we apply our company’s core strengths, reach and skills development to maximize our impact. 

At at glance strategy story
Strategy in store image

One of the key frameworks we use is the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which defines the private sector's responsibility to protect, respect and remedy human rights. The principles outline the rights and needs of vulnerable people and emphasize how women and men may face different risks. Our Human Rights Policy  is based on the Guiding Principles to honor and protect the human rights of our approximately 135,000 employees and the millions of people involved in our supply chain. We want to ensure that all of our employees and the people in our partners’ facilities work in safe, fair conditions, and that they are treated with dignity and respect. 

Alongside hundreds of companies, we recognize the urgent need to address global climate change caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other environmental impacts caused throughout our value chain. In addition to tracking and reporting on goals aimed at ensuring a healthy planet, we have added our voice to the We Mean Business coalition. As a company, we are committing to leadership on climate action, which complements our ambitious work protecting and ensuring access to the world's water resources.

We are also proud to support the UN SDGs, which codify the global community’s commitment to ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. To meet these goals, everyone—from business to government to civil society—must do their part. 

In 2015, after the SDGs were adopted, we assessed Gap Inc.’s opportunities to advance progress on the SDGs. This assessment revealed that our company’s sustainability efforts align most closely with eight of the goals. In particular, we have a leadership opportunity to support SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth, through our Supplier Sustainability  and our youth-employment program, This Way Ahead. Some of our leading programs, such as our P.A.C.E.  women's empowerment program, support SDG 5, Gender Equality. This assessment also highlighted how we are advancing SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, for the apparel retail industry.

Using the global agenda as our guide, we have identified issues that are the most material to our business, and we apply our company’s core strengths, reach and skills development to maximize our impact.

Core Sustainability Focus Areas

We recognize that we cannot lead on every issue; given our business operations and strengths, we prioritize our greatest opportunities for leadership to maximize impact. Gap Inc.’s sustainability materiality assessment  set our overarching sustainability agenda and helped establish our five core focus areas:

Advancing People and Communities: We could not succeed as a company without the exceptional people who support our business—from the employees in our retail stores, to the workers on the factory floors, to the communities near our operations. We aim to create opportunities for our employees, for women and girls around the world impacted by the apparel supply chain and for young adults seeking to begin their career, so they can reach their goals and fulfill their greatest potential. 

Improving Factory Working Conditions: We partner with all of our suppliers to provide safe, fair and healthy working conditions for the individuals who create our clothes. Together, we’re building the capacity of our suppliers to manage and improve their practices, designing industry-leading programs to improve worker and manager relations, assessing and improving working conditions to meet legal and international standards and increasing transparency about our efforts. 

Water Stewardship: Water is essential for our business and for the people and communities where we operate. We look for ways to address water impacts at all product life stages. Our programs aim to reduce water use, eliminate discharge of hazardous chemicals and work directly with women to improve access to clean, safe water. 

Product Sustainability: Our integrated commitment to sustainability begins with our design teams and the development of products that look good, have lower impact on the environment and bring confidence to our customers. Since the materials in our clothes greatly contribute to each garment’s environmental impact, our design and production decisions have significant power to make our products more sustainable. 

Operational Eco-Efficiency: A dedication to reducing the impacts of our owned and operated stores, distribution centers and offices means reducing our operational greenhouse gas emissions and waste production, and working with our logistics and procurement partners to identify practices that are more efficient and have a lower environmental impact.

“To me, leading sustainability at Gap Inc. is really about equality—equal treatment, equal opportunity and the ability for everyone to enjoy a healthy environment.”

David Hayer, President, Gap Foundation, and Senior Vice President, Global Sustainability, Gap Inc

Our Management Approach

Given our size, we feel a great responsibility to the planet and to the people who make our clothes. Our global scale also provides an opportunity to make a real difference. Our aim is to reimagine the way business can change the world. We are doing this by supporting long-term business performance while creating greater equality and opportunity, developing social and environmental innovations that allow people to fulfill their potential, and scaling these innovations by integrating them into our business and products. In addition to aligning our goals with the global sustainable development agenda, we follow an intentional approach. 

For all of our social and environmental programs, we: 

 

  1. Integrate Sustainability into Our BusinessBy integrating sustainability into our business as a core driver, we create wider accountability for sustainability goals. This allows us to leverage our talent across all of Gap Inc. to achieve our ambitious sustainability goals. 
  2. Set Ambitious Goals: By setting ambitious goals, we establish focus on key indicators across our company so that we can measure our progress on delivering real benefits to the people and communities we serve. 
  3. Deliver on Our Commitments: By delivering on our commitments, we contribute in a meaningful way to the people and places we rely on for our business—which also helps our company succeed.
  4. Form Partnerships with Civil Society, Governments and Other Sectors to Increase Collective Impact: By partnering with organizations from the local to the global level, we are able to can deliver impact on a bigger scale and create long-term, sustainable progress.