Sustainability Strategy

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.

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 129,000 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 establishing ambitious goals, and tracking and reporting on them, we are committed as a company to leadership on climate action, which complements our ongoing work protecting and ensuring access to the world's water resources.

We regularly assess Gap Inc.’s opportunities to advance progress on the SDGs, and review how our goals align with the global targets. This assessment revealed that our company’s sustainability efforts align most closely with six 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:

Our Employees: We aim to create opportunities for the employees who support our business in our stores, distribution centers and headquarters offices. 

Communities: Our P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) program gives women and girls the foundational life skills, technical training and support they need to advance in the workplace and in their communities.

Improving Supply Chain Working Conditions: By partnering with our suppliers and other key stakeholders, we strive 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 the people and communities where we operate. We look for ways to address water impacts throughout our value chain and in communities.

Climate: We are reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through renewable energy projects; and we work with our logistics and procurement partners to improve efficiency and environmental performance.

Waste: We are reducing waste throughout our value chain and building circularity programs to redefine the life cycle of our products in order to reduce resource consumption.

Product Sustainability: We are working with our product designers and developers to balance the needs of getting great product into our customers’ hands with efforts to reduce our impact on the environment.

Raw Materials: We believe great products are created with sustainability at their core, which means going all the way down to the earliest stages of the product life cycle to reduce impacts.

The health of our business and the health of our planet are undeniably connected. We are investing in Gap Inc.  for the future – a portfolio of brands that is resilient, sustainable and reflective of our diverse customer base.

Katrina O’Connell, Chief Financial Officer, 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 BusinessWe create broader accountability for our sustainability strategy by creating shared goals and targets across Gap Inc. 
  2. Set Ambitious Goals: We 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. Make Progress Toward 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.