Gap Inc. Product Inclusion Summit Welcomed Guests from Sephora, Google, and Harlem’s Fashion Row
by Mark Daniel Snyder, Communications Manager
February 12, 2020
Q: Do you know what percentage of American women wear a size above 16?
Q: What does a puppy have to do with inclusive products?
A: There are more clothing options on the market for pets than people with disabilities.
Q: Can you guess the collective disposable income of people with disabilities in the USA?
A: $490 billion
Those statistics, provided by Gap Inc.’s innovation team, illustrate why our recent Product Inclusion Summit was so necessary as we explore how to grow our company’s capacity to serve all those who want to work for and shop with us. The team kicked off the event presenting ideas about new, more inclusive ways to approach designing for women who are breastfeeding, gender nonbinary customers, and people with disabilities, to name a few.
At Gap Inc. we know it is our responsibility to reflect the diversity of our customers and employees in our product offerings and our company culture. While this work is an ongoing journey inside the walls of our headquarters, our Color Proud Council and Equality & Belonging teams decided to take two days to dig deep with honest conversations about how we can do better. Welcoming insight from leaders outside of Gap Inc. who are also engaged in work to make their companies and our society a more inclusive place was an integral part of the Summit.
Guest speaker Annie Jean-Baptiste, Head of Product Inclusion at Google shared eye-opening stories and lessons from her career. From finding ways to ensure product and consumer research is conducted in geographically diverse regions to making sure employees of the company are continuously improving their understanding of unconscious and systemic forms of bias, her team regularly consults on new products before they go to market to ensure they would serve a wide range of identities and experiences equally. Baptiste spoke about the efforts to ensure facial recognition on the new Pixel phone camera recognizes the faces of people with darker skin tones.
In 2019, Sephora reinforced its commitment to inclusivity in the beauty world and beyond with its award-winning We Belong to Something Beautiful campaign, spotlighting the company’s ongoing journey to celebrate and embrace diversity across its stores and larger beauty community overall. Vice President of Sephora Stands, Corrie Conrad relayed inspiring stories from customers who participated in their Classes for Confidence beauty classes and trainings for transgender and non-binary customers, people reentering the workforce, and skin care for people undergoing chemotherapy. “We were blown away by the reception these classes received, particularly the workshops for transgender customers,” she said. Part of what made Sephora’s efforts a success was the intentionality that went into developing the workshops and trainings, and close collaborations with partner nonprofit organizations who were directly involved in helping to build authentic relationships and reaching diverse communities. The company also announced its Manifesto on belonging in the beauty community which was published in the New York Times.
Brandice Daniel, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row shared her incredible story of how she created what grew from a fashion event featuring Black fashion designers in Harlem to an influential social enterprise organization that counts a collaboration with Nike on a Le Bron James shoe among its successes! “A fashion event like ours had never been done before,” Daniel said. “I gathered people together from the industry, designers, and others. I made them breakfast every week at my apartment, and as people kept coming back, the vision became clearer. I could feel there was a movement growing. This was bigger than my one idea. And that first event was featured in several media outlets including Style.com.”
Last year Gap Inc. participated in the organization’s annual fashion show and designer retreat. At the Summit, we announced our expanded partnership in 2020 will include events throughout the year, digital workshops with their extended network of designers of color, and brand collaborations.
Support is unwavering from company leadership to continue making Gap Inc. the most inclusive company possible.
Michele Nyrop Executive Vice President + Chief People Officer at Gap Inc. told the crowd, “This work is now more important than ever, and in my 23 years at Gap Inc. I’ve never been more inspired by the passion of our leaders who have stepped up to embed inclusion into our everyday culture. The time is now to get us to that place.”
Mark Breitbard, President and CEO of Banana Republic and executive sponsor of the Color Proud Council, echoed “This is about who we are. It’s in our company’s DNA, and now we have the opportunity go beyond that. Every time we get together and share, we grow our capacity to be a more inclusive company which translates into attracting diverse talent and making better products for our customers.”