Image: A rendering of a billboard that launched in Times Square last week.
At Gap Inc., we recognize that we’re witnessing a tipping point in history, one that is propelled by systemic racism, discrimination and prejudices that span far beyond our inception over fifty years ago. Don and Doris Fisher built Gap Inc. on the values of diversity, inclusion and equality, which continue to serve as our compass, both in the way we act and the way we do business today. We pride ourselves in being a company that is Open to All, and we celebrate and welcome our customers and employees, regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. We know we are not perfect, but realize that’s the reason we should work even harder; to grow stronger as an organization, stay aligned to our values, and come together in unity not despite our differences, but because of them.
Standing up for Racial Justice
We know that this moment calls upon us to do more. As people around the world mourn the murder of George Floyd and many others at the hands of police, we recognize that this incident did not occur in a vacuum. We recognize that Black Lives Matter and that year after year, the list of names of victims of police brutality grows longer. Those victims are disproportionately Black people: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Tony McDade, to name just a few. We recognize that racism at all levels of society drives this violence and must be addressed. And, we recognize that similarly to COVID-19, racism and police brutality have exponential impacts on those who are already marginalized, such as transgender women of color.
Amidst the rainbow celebrations, it can be easy to forget that LGBTQ Pride month, which we’re honoring now, also began as a protest led by trans and queer people of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Storme DeLarverie. From the Stonewall Riots in New York City to the Compton Cafeteria and White Night riots in San Francisco, resistance to violence has been at the heart of the movement.
Beyond our spirited words, we know that our company needs to hold space for all our employees right now, especially those of color. And, we need to take action to be a part of the solutions to addressing racism. As Kisha Modica, our Head of Equality & Belonging said during our company-wide, virtual vigil this week, “as the hashtags stop trending, the tough work must continue.”
The vigil, led by our CEO Sonia Syngal, was among the various ways we are holding and creating space for employees. We’ve invited renowned inclusion strategist, Amber Cabral, to facilitate six “Real Talk” sessions on race and inclusion for our employees: five for all employees and one specifically for our leadership. All of our Equality & Belonging groups are hosting meetings to educate themselves on racial justice issues and how they will act in support of their Black colleagues. We’re re-disseminating our inclusion and unconscious bias trainings to our employees. We’re listening to and centering the voices of our Color Proud Council and African American Networking Group (AANG). We’re ensuring our employees have mental health resources and the space they need to grapple with the emotions rising to the surface at this time. These are some of the ways we’re doubling down on our commitment to this work within our company, and there is more to come.
We’re eager to lean into the work it will take to contribute to a nation united in fairness and equality. In her note to Gap Inc. employees, CEO Sonia Syngal said, “We have a responsibility to speak up and say this is wrong. To be a force for good in the communities where we live and work.”
Programs like This Way Ahead and P.A.C.E. exemplify Gap Inc.'s long-held commitment to inclusion and opportunity.
We recently renewed our sponsorship of Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR), an Influential arts and entertainment organization that engages audiences and aligns brand partners with emerging designers of color in fashion. Janie and Jack has also partnered with HFR on a collaboration launching this fall, as well as donating $25,000 to their newly established Icon 360 program, which benefits designers of color impacted by COVID-19. We’re incredibly proud to be working with HFR to provide opportunities and a platform for designers of color, and have more collaborations coming soon.
There are many racial justice organizations worthy of donations. Last week, our brands have announced a $300,000 donation to two organizations, NAACP and EmbraceRace, both of whom use their platforms to fight racism and promote equality on a national level. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, is one of the oldest and most established anti-discrimination organizations in our country, while EmbraceRace, a newer organization, works to raise a generation of children to be “thoughtful, informed, and brave about race.”
Our strength comes from our ability to work together - weaving together people from different races and backgrounds. We shouldn't let ourselves be divided, and we must continue working toward freedom for everyone, without exceptions. Thank you for joining us on this journey. We’re going to make mistakes, but we will not waver from our ongoing commitment to full equality for all.