January 14, 2021
The following email was sent to Gap Inc.'s employees earlier today from CEO Sonia Syngal.
As we closed out 2020, a year of self- and societal realization, and welcomed this new year, in which our world remains quite divided, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting. I’ve reflected on what is within my control, and what I and all of us as a collective can do to be a force for good. Each of us carries a set of beliefs and values, built over time through a collection of life experiences. As such, I wanted to share a few personal thoughts with you.
In 1947, when India established itself as an independent, self-ruling democracy, my father was just 9 years old. He lived in a northern village in Punjab, where he saw first-hand the devastation of hate, propaganda and division, often stoked from afar. He witnessed neighbors who had lived together peacefully for generations turn on each other. Hindu against Muslim, Muslim against Sikh. My mother came from a house of lawyers and judges, many who played a role in forging India’s new democracy. Her family taught her the importance of a fair and just society – one where everyone has an equal voice and the ability to debate openly. Together, my parents raised my sister and me to understand the preciousness and fragility of democratic ideals, and to appreciate the role we all play in keeping democracy vibrant. Like so many countless others, I carried these lessons with me when I emigrated to the United States at 18, reaffirmed them when I later became a U.S. citizen, and have been reflecting on them deeply since last week’s violence in D.C.
Democracy is the source and foundation of all that is possible in the quest of fulfilling our dreams and achieving our fullest potential – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As I look ahead to next week, there is no better time to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unwavering commitment to racial equality and representative democracy. Like Gandhi before him, Dr. King modeled his life’s work on non-violence and civil disobedience. They knew that this was the only way to change hearts and minds. And, as we witness the historic moment when a woman is sworn in as Vice President of the United States and with a Congress that is more diverse than ever before - with record-setting numbers of women, Black, Latinx and LGBTQ members elected to office - it calls to mind our own company's cultural history and the vision of our co-founder. Over 50 years ago, Doris blazed a trail that opened doors for other women to lead. For her, making sure everyone had an equal voice wasn’t progressive, it was just the way it should be. Because of her, equality and inclusion are foundational to our company.
This is also a moment to acknowledge the work we still have to do to bridge the gaps between us. As a company whose purpose is to be Inclusive, by Design, we must work hard to truly live up to the values we were founded on and the commitments we’ve made. We are a company of more than 100,000 people, one that provides a first job for so many, and creates far-reaching impact all over the world – what we stand for and actions we take, are more important than ever. We each come from different places, and we represent different belief systems, cultures and customs. No matter who we voted for or whatever our political persuasion, each of us has an equal voice, and responsibility in maintaining civility and upholding our democratic principles and ideals.
Gap Inc., through the power of our brands and each of you, stands for American optimism, and we can and will speak up and stand up for the vital importance of our democracy.