February 22, 2023
Meet Chesson Duncan, who works on the Merchandising team for Athleta and serves as the Community and Brand Engagement Co-Chair on the leadership team of BLACK@Gap Inc., one of several of our Equality & Belonging Groups, and spearheaded its newsletter, The Vibe Check.
Check out our Q&A with Chesson below and learn how Gap Inc. celebrates and empowers black employees by providing a space to build community, support professional development, and impact business initiatives while influencing Gap Inc.'s culture.
Q. Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in a small town in Southern California, east of Los Angeles, and come from a big but very tight-knit family – my sister is my best friend, and I am her number one fan.
After graduating from Cal Poly Pomona and then studying fashion at Chaffey College, I started my career in LA before moving to the Bay Area in 2012. After ten years here, I bought my first home in Oakland last summer.
In my downtime, I love to travel. Other cultures inspire me through food, art, and history. My travel plans this year include visits to Egypt, Greece, and Costa Rica.
Q. What motivated you to join the BLACK@Gap Inc. Equality & Belonging Group?
I learned about Gap Inc.'s EBG groups during orientation when I joined the company in 2019, and I immediately became a member of BLACK@Gap, Inc.
I loved connecting with other people who looked like me at work. We spend so much time in predominately white institutions throughout our careers (and lives), so having the space to foster a community is essential.
When the opportunity to join the leadership team opened in 2020, I jumped at the chance to help to get more involved.
Q. What has been the most impactful part of being a member of BLACK@Gap Inc. and serving on its leadership team?
The most significant impact of being a member of BLACK@Gap Inc. is building within our community.
The world got a glimpse of the Black experience after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Despite all the injustice happening around us, we still had to show up. We held many safe space conversations with our members and allies during that time—allowing people to speak freely and share their experiences. We wanted to give our members space to grieve, vent and feel all their feelings. The fellowship in those virtual rooms was meaningful, even cathartic for some.
We also listened to our members about what they needed from the company's leadership to make Gap, Inc. a more equitable and inclusive place to work and shop. Being on the BLACK@Gap, Inc. leadership team, we get the opportunity to speak to senior leaders and hold them accountable for the company's commitments.
I value my impact as an advocate for the Black community at Gap Inc.
Q. You spearheaded The Vibe Check, BLACK@Gap Inc.'s quarterly newsletter. Tell us more about your role and what you hope to achieve personally.
I have a multi-faceted role with the newsletter. As the copy editor, layout designer, project manager, and contributing writer, it is admittedly something I am pretty proud of.
When I joined the BLACK@Gap Inc. leadership team, I served as the Communications Co-Chair along with Lauren Slatter, my counterpart in New York. Lauren and I wanted to do more to reach our members in this new work-from-home environment. So, we started The Vibe Check as a monthly newsletter to discuss timely topics, celebrate cultural happenings, and highlight our upcoming events.
The first edition came out in December 2020, and we've launched 15 volumes over the last year. I've even hosted two live interviews with senior leaders in the company and special guests like Aurora James, the founder of the 15 Percent Pledge and the luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies, and Amber Cabral, author of Advocates: Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Culture.
My goal for The Vibe Check is to engage with our members and allies. The newsletter features regular columns on art and culture, movies and TV, employee spotlights, and upcoming events. We also write editorials to inspire and spark an engaging conversation.
Inspired by Chesson and her involvement at Gap Inc.? Learn more about our Equality and Belonging Groups here.