What has Gap Inc. done in response to the December 14 2010 fire at an apparel factory in Bangladesh in which 29 workers died?
Since this tragic event, we have taken multiple steps to address the health and safety of affected workers at the factory in Bangladesh, as well as the broader, systemic issues associated with fire safety and prevention in factories in Bangladesh. For a thorough summary of the steps we have taken on this issue, please click here, and for a list of statements on this issue, please click here.
How does Gap Inc. respond to allegations of violations of its Code of Vendor Conduct at Ocean Sky International in El Salvador?
As part of Gap Inc.’s ongoing monitoring of factories producing our branded apparel, our Social Responsibility Specialists visited Ocean Sky’s manufacturing facility in El Salvador in April 2010 and found occurrences of forced overtime and overtime payment violations. Our team reported these violations to Ocean Sky management and requested that they be resolved immediately, which Ocean Sky management agreed to do. Our Social Responsibility Specialists visited Ocean Sky’s facility again in June 2010 to check on the status of how management was correcting these violations. At that time, we privately interviewed factory workers, randomly selected with no input from Ocean Sky management, who confirmed that Ocean Sky management had resolved both the overtime and overtime payment issues as of that date.
When we learned of the allegations raised in a report by the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights, we immediately sent our team of Social Responsibility Specialists back to Ocean Sky to conduct another investigation. This team met with the authors of the report, and with officials of the Salvadoran Ministry of Labor. In addition to our team’s thorough investigation, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) simultaneously commissioned an independent investigation to look into the allegations. The FLA hired the Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct (COVERCO), an independent accredited monitoring agency, to conduct an assessment of Ocean Sky. We are waiting for the final results of the FLA’s investigation to be made public.
We believe in the importance of fair and equitable working conditions and are committed to protecting the workers at the factories that make our branded products. Going forward, we will be working with the FLA, other brands and concerned stakeholders to identify solutions to the issues that have been identified in these respective investigations.
What is Gap Inc.’s current presence and actions in Sri Lanka?
Gap Inc. takes the human rights concerns related to the Sri Lankan conflict and its aftermath seriously. We are monitoring the steps taken by the U.S. government, the EU and the United Nations to address these concerns, and we believe these institutions are best placed to be engaging with the Sri Lankan government at this time.
The conflict in Sri Lanka has been particularly hard on working Sri Lankans of all backgrounds, and based on expert consultations, we feel that one of the most meaningful contributions we can make to help improve the overall environment in Sri Lanka is by providing safe and fair working conditions to individuals regardless of political affiliation or ethnicity. This is particularly true because apparel production is an important and much needed source of jobs in the country.
At Gap Inc., we strongly believe in non-discriminatory hiring practices, and fair, equitable working conditions. To ensure these values are upheld, our Social Responsibility Specialists conduct announced and unannounced visits to factories that we monitor. In Sri Lanka, our specialist team is comprised of both Tamil and Sinhalese employees who speak the local language, understand the culture, and have deep experience in this work. We have a number of additional efforts to improve conditions in Sri Lanka. To read more, click here.
Has Gap Inc. always been committed to social responsibility?
When Doris and Don Fisher started Gap in 1969, they made sure giving back to communities was a core part of the company. Since that time, our commitment has expanded to include ethical sourcing, environmental responsibility, community investment and creating a great place to work for our employees.
You can learn more about our commitment in these areas by reading each section of our report:
Why did you move your social responsibility reporting completely online?
We moved from a printed report to publishing our Social and Environmental Responsibility Report completely online in 2009 to make it more informative, timely, easy to update, interactive — and environmentally friendly. We have also added the functionality to build your own report. One of the biggest reasons we are no longer publishing a print report is to protect natural resources. Not printing a report saves trees and is more aligned with our environmental strategy.
In addition to sharing news on dozens of activities and programs, our site is designed to serve as a knowledge base and source of inspiration for our employees, customers, partners and communities around the world.
Where do you manufacture your products? What criteria do you use to choose a location?
We work with factories producing Gap Inc. branded product that are willing and able to meet our business standards, including those standards outlined in our Code of Vendor Conduct (COVC). To screen out factories that don’t meet our COVC requirements, we’ve developed an approval process for the factories making our branded product. Read more about how our work with factories has evolved. To see a list of the countries that we source from click here.
Why does Gap Inc. not disclose the list of factories that manufacture products for its brands?
Gap Inc. brands do not disclose the list of factories that manufacture our branded products due to competitive reasons. Finding suppliers that meet our cost, quality, speed, and Code of Vendor Conduct expectations, is a time and resource-intensive task. We work closely with factory management, workers, trade unions, NGOs, and multi-stakeholder initiatives to improve working conditions in factories producing our branded apparel. If it is necessary to bring about a sustainable solution to a social compliance issue, we may elect to disclose select facilities where we place production.
What is your position on the use of child labor in the garment industry?
We do not tolerate child labor. It’s one of the most serious violations of our Code of Vendor Conduct (COVC). To gain and keep our business, vendors must commit to employing factory workers producing our branded products who meet the minimum legal age requirement in that country or the minimum age in our Code, whichever is higher. We enforce our COVC through our monitoring program. You can read more about our monitoring efforts here.
What do you do to ensure that the factory workers who make your products are treated fairly and with respect?
We strive to ensure the people making Gap Inc. branded products are treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Details of our comprehensive factory monitoring and development program can be found here.
Do you have a code of ethics that employees and vendors must follow?
Gap Inc. has an established Code of Business Conduct for employees and a Code of Vendor Conduct for factories that make our branded products.
The Code of Business Conduct ("Code") is designed to promote a responsible and ethical work environment for all Gap Inc. employees and directors. The Code contains guidelines on proper behavior in the workplace and whom you should contact if you have specific questions or concerns. The Code applies to all Gap Inc. employees and members of the board of directors and helps ensure that we do business in a responsible way that is consistent with our culture and values.
All factories that produce our branded product must abide by the standards outlined in our Code of Vendor Conduct. Our Code is based on internationally accepted labor standards — in particular, the International Labour Organization's core conventions — and clearly states that factories must comply with all local labor laws and regulations.
Are any of your products environmentally sustainable?
Each of our brands is committed to the ethical sourcing of the products we sell, and we take great care in the social and environmental impact of our operations. Our brands have invested in sustainable product design and over the years have offered a variety of items made from organic cotton and other sustainable fibers. For example, Athleta and Banana Republic offer items made from sustainable fibers such as organic cotton and hemp, and Old Navy offers denim made from recycled material. Furthermore, any facility finishing denim product for Gap Inc. brands must comply with our Water Quality Program. These efforts serve as supplements to the environmental requirements embedded within our Code of Vendor Conduct, which must be abided by all vendors producing branded product for Gap Inc.
Do your employees participate in your community programs?
Of all our company assets, none is more valuable than our 134,000 employees, who bring a vast array of skills and passions to volunteering. Our work in the community would not be possible without them.
In 2010, our employees volunteered 428,000 hours in our communities. The value of their volunteer time, the money they invested in the community, and our match of these efforts total more than $16,000,000. They also planned and organized over 2,800 team volunteer events.
Our employees’ volunteer efforts are as diverse as they are. And we have worked to expand their range of opportunities – and impact – by increasing our emphasis on skills-based volunteerism. While some employees are already using their professional talent to benefit nonprofits around the world, we aim to involve even more in this type of service.
Today, employees provide skills-based volunteerism that ranges from writing a competitive analysis for a women’s organization to creating a database for a workers’ rights group to providing organizational development for a family services agency. As an ongoing example, a team from our Legal department has been working with two youth nonprofits to provide the legal expertise they need to expand their services and acting similarly to an in-house council for these organizations.
We see a direct connection between our employees’ volunteerism and their commitment to Gap Inc.: engaged employees deliver strong business results. In a recent employee survey, nearly all respondents said it is important for them to work for a company that invests in the community.
How do you choose organizations to support?
Gap Inc., like most businesses, has many assets that can positively impact the community. In our case, when we think about community investment, we consider our stores, marketing expertise, globally recognized brands, vendor relationships and, most importantly, employees — and their talent. Leveraging our corporate assets enables us to have a deeper impact than we could if we just wrote a check.
Gap Inc.’s community investment focus is on underserved youth in the developed world and women in the developing world because we see the greatest potential for impact in these areas based on our company’s assets.
Learn more about our commitment to youth and our youth signature program This Way Ahead.
Learn more about how we’re supporting women’s advancement and our women’s signature program, P.A.C.E.
Learn more about sponsorship information and community support.
How can I get involved in Gap Inc.'s social responsibility efforts?
Facebook: Become a fan of the “Be What’s Possible” Facebook Page and the Gap Inc. Facebook Page. Learn about opportunities to get involved and support your community.
Volunteer: Look for ways to volunteer in your local community. From time to time we organize events that our customers and employees can participate in to support the local communities where we do business.
Purchase responsibly: We encourage you to look for products that you love and support socially and environmentally responsible companies and initiatives.