Career Development

Career Development Investing in developing talent

Our business success depends on our people. That’s why we are dedicated to attracting talented employees and giving them opportunities and reasons to achieve their work and life goals at Gap Inc. 

We strive to develop a diverse pipeline of talent and give our employees opportunities to learn and develop, stay challenged, take on new roles and adopt greater responsibility. We know our current and prospective employees expect a path to new opportunities that rewards them for their performance and value contribution. Offering our employees challenging work that tests and builds their capabilities not only sets them up for success, it makes our business stronger and more innovative. 

Advancing Careers

We strive to develop a diverse pipeline of talent and provide employees with opportunities to learn, grow and take on greater responsibility.

As a retailer that values hands-on experience in our stores, we give store employees opportunities to take on higher-level field and corporate positions. The best testaments to the opportunities we provide are our employees who started out at stores and rose through the ranks to senior management positions; approximately 18% of Gap Inc. executives at the vice president level and above started their careers working with product and customers in stores. 

Many people stay at the company or return because of the opportunities and range of roles that our brands and business provide. It’s common for our employees to work for multiple brands and functions during their careers. Employees at the manager and higher levels average more than seven years with the company, and more than 16% of employees return for new challenges and opportunities. Our careers site and blog, as well as our alumni program, connect past, current and future talent.  

We also recognize the need to look outside our organization to make sure we find the best people for each role. We aim to balance our internal promotions and external hires to achieve the most productive mix of diverse talent, functional and subject matter expertise and organizational fit.

Advancing Careers - At A Glance
Advancing careers

Our Approach to Learning and Development

Our learning and development model is based on two core beliefs: Everyone has the capacity to learn and grow, and the best opportunities for learning take place on the job.  

To better serve our employees, we eschew a traditional annual review process for employee performance in favor of a system called “GPS—Grow. Perform. Succeed.” With a focus on continuous learning, GPS uses frequent performance conversations and coaching sessions to give employees regular feedback and guidance on their work and development opportunities. 

Because we believe most growth happens on the job, we use a 70-20-10 model for career development that emphasizes learning through real work experiences. 70% of an employee’s learning and development takes place on the job and is built into their goals, 20% occurs through mentorships and collaboration and 10% comes from courses or formal training. 

Building Talent

Our enterprise-wide approach to building talent provides all of our employees — professionals, managers, directors and executives — with opportunities for development. These tiered focuses meet individual contributors and leaders where they are on their professional journey, providing development programs tailored to their needs.

Our learning and development programs reach the following categories of employees:

  • Individuals: helping them to be leaders at any level, even if they are not directly managing other people
  • New managers: helping newly hired or promoted managers understand the principles of sound leadership as they begin to manage others for the first time
  • Managers: helping existing managers deliver ongoing results through effective leadership and management
  • Directors: helping people who have multiple years of leadership experience improve how they “lead leaders” and drive results for their teams
  • Executives: helping experienced leaders enhance their skills in leading multifunctional, diverse global teams to drive results at the enterprise level

Our enterprise learning efforts are open to all HQ employees and combine classroom-based experiences with virtual learning, homework, hands-on workshops and continual learning opportunities.

The company offers over 16,000 courses that we create, manage or have access to, covering a range of subjects, including goal setting, how to be a great boss, situational leadership, unconscious bias and inclusive leadership, how to have powerful conversations, and many more. By delivering best-in-class training, our aim is to inspire and engage Gap Inc. talent through a consistent framework that empowers employees to drive their work forward while building strong relationships.

Leadership Development

We offer employees at all levels a variety of training opportunities , ranging from online courses to in-person workshops and multiday programs. A few examples of programs that improve our business by promoting employee learning and development include:

  • Retail Academy - This program combines classroom sessions, rotational training and business simulations designed to develop the skills employees need to advance and navigate the increasingly complex and technology-driven retail space. This includes a world-class Rotational Management Program (RMP) for high-potential entry-level talent being groomed to become future leaders of the company. 
  • Leadership Development - This six-month program provides tools and resources to new people managers and helps them develop the long-term capabilities of others, create better ways to achieve business success and empower their teams.
  • Mid-level Manager Coaching - We are helping prepare mid-level managers for senior leadership roles in a variety of ways, including through a one-to-one coaching program. Through a virtual platform, employees ranging from manager to vice president connect with experienced coaches to receive customized guidance that takes into account each participant’s unique situation. 

Everyone has the capacity to learn and grow, and the best opportunities for learning take place on the job.

Field to HQ

Fueling our entry-level headquarters roles with incredible talent is important to our success, and field employees are a key source of talent for these roles. Our diverse field employees work with customers every day and understand what they need and want. Their connection to customers and understanding of how our stores work is invaluable at headquarters. We have always encouraged bringing store employees to headquarters and in 2017, we formalized a program where we actively market opportunities to store employees, support candidates through the recruiting process and provide a custom onboarding experience to ensure a successful transition. Although we had a goal to fill to fill 20 percent of entry-level headquarters roles with field employees by 2020, shifting corporate priorities led to uncertain hiring needs.

Great Bosses

We know that one of the primary reasons people stay in their jobs is because they have great bosses. Great bosses build great teams, and great teams contribute great value to the company. We focus on developing our leaders’ ability to connect, listen to feedback and continuously improve.

Our Great Bosses program focuses on 10 practical ways our people can “boss better,” from rewarding successes to being honest, curious, and open-minded to understanding that progress is better than perfection.

Additionally, we launched the Great Boss Survey, a vehicle for managers to get actionable feedback directly from the people they lead. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we conduct this survey twice a year and the results go directly to managers.

Employee Opinion Survey

We value our employees’ feedback and use opinion surveys as a critical component of our ongoing listening strategy. We use these insights to understand what is important to our employees and to determine where we should focus our investments and build new programs and strategies that help us create a thriving, productive work environment. 

We have modernized our approach to soliciting employee feedback, shifting from an annual companywide opinion survey to more frequent pulse surveys on topical issues. This allows us to capture real-time data so that we can understand and respond faster to employees’ immediate needs. We now issue surveys to representative samples of employees based on the topic, with an aim to have all employees participate in at least one survey every quarter. Each survey is less than 20 questions, and we share results in regular employee communications.  

Results

We filled over half of open headquarters manager and above positions through internal hires in 2019. For store management positions, over 39 percent of open positions went to existing employees. Most store associates are new hires.

Global Share of Open Positions
Filled by Internal Hires
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
VP & Above 70% 71% 61% 57% 47%
Director / Sr. Director 65% 64% 52% 56% 57%
Manager / Sr. Manager 58% 59% 57% 52% 52%
Store Management 53% 49% 47% 43% 39%
Overall (including Store Associates) 14% 15% 15% 15% 19%