A Q&A with Sally Gilligan, Head of Strategy, Gap Inc.
When you think about the term, Do the Right Thing, what does that mean to you and how does that translate to your role at Gap Inc.?
When I think about what do the right thing means to me, it starts with leading and making decisions with integrity. It also means maximizing the impact our purpose-led brands can have in shaping people’s way of life, albeit our customers, fellow employees, or the individuals who enable our business globally while ensuring we have a positive impact on our communities and environment. The stronger our business performs the more we can amplify our impact.
Across my roles, we touch global communities. With my strategy lens, leading with our values is more important than ever. Customers continue to choose brands with values they believe in and trust. With my Environmental, Social, and Governance lens, our size and scale mean we are uniquely positioned to have industry-leading impact and make lasting change for generations to come.
When you think about progress in Gap Inc.’s efforts to Do the Right Thing, what do you think good looks like?
For me, what good looks like is having an amplified impact by living our purpose, Inclusive, by Design, in every way we do business. This means continuing our work to Empower Women through P.A.C.E., creating opportunity through This Way Onward, enabling our Equality and Belonging commitments, and enriching the communities we touch through our environmental commitments. Meeting our commitments is so important as customers, employees, and investors all demand greater transparency. As we celebrate earth day it is important to recognize the work we have done and the work that remains. We have some audacious goals across carbon neutrality, reducing single-use plastics, and ensuring water for all. We’re showing that we can accomplish what we set out to do in proof points like meeting our commitment to saving 10 billion liters of water in manufacturing in 2020 (we’re now at 11.2b liters!) and when it comes to improving conditions for people, we’ve empowered 650,000 people to improve their access to water and sanitation, reached over 120,000 women with water education, and developed over 1,000 local water security plans. Those are all markers of progress and set the stage for how we do the right thing by leveraging the power of our platform.
What is one way you think everyone can do their part to Do the Right Thing for society, the planet, and our business?
One of the great things about a performance culture grounded in values is that we are authentically creating an organization that not only supports – but expects – everyone to show up with integrity and apply the lens of doing what’s right in service of people, the planet, and our business. We’re already starting from a point of empowerment and opportunity. The one thing I would say we can all do is to be present and embrace your role in the work. Use your voice to influence, Doing the Right Thing. Whether that’s designing a product, volunteering, or supporting a fellow employee to ensure they feel a sense of belonging. All our individual actions help us have outsized impact in our sustainability or inclusion work. Just like the Power Plan 2023, we all can have the greatest impact when our brands, platform, and portfolio come together, when we all step up and do the right thing.
Can you share a story of a time where you were challenged to Do the Right Thing?
At the height of the pandemic last year, we saw an increased need for masks at scale, particularly in healthcare and government agencies that were supporting communities. With our scaled supply chain operations and deep product knowledge, we were uniquely positioned to quickly turn on an entirely new mask business and provide companies in both the private and public sector with high-quality reusable, non-medical grade cloth face masks. From servicing essential workers at Kaiser Permanente to the State of California, and the city of New York, we quickly sold ~10 million non-medical grade face masks. It was an amazing effort to be part of, as all our teams (design, production, sourcing, logistics, strategy, among others) came together to make it happen. Along with scaling masks for these critical organizations, our amazing product teams also scaled a mask business for our customers overnight. To further amplify our impact, our brands gave back by donating over 3.5 million non-medical masks to community organizations that help those in need during this crisis. It was a privilege to work with our talented teams, end-to-end, to bring the Power of our Brands, Portfolio, and Platform to bear and to have an impact on so many communities.