February 8, 2024
As we celebrate Black History Month at Gap Inc., we’re reflecting on the ways that we celebrate, immerse in and shed light on the rich, influential fabric of black culture – through product collaborations, our connection to customers, the relationships we have within the communities we serve and more. We aim to matter, deeply, and this requires an intentional focus on driving access, opportunity, and advancement of Black and Brown talent within the retail industry, from HQ to stores – all aspects that are reflected in our 2025 Gap Inc. Commitments.
It all goes hand in hand – so as we encourage our customers to express themselves through originality and authenticity, we know it’s just as important to create space for our employees to do the same. Read on for some insider perspectives from two Old Navy Store Leaders – Lauren Gaddy, Director for the Mid-Atlantic Region and Christopher Hammond, District Manager of Richmond – who are also BLACK@Gap Inc. Employee Belonging Group co-chairs – on their respective roles and what the influence of Black culture and inclusion from the inside out look like at Old Navy and Gap Inc.
One of the ways we’re celebrating Black History Month here at Gap Inc. is by highlighting the undeniable impact and influence of Black culture – in what ways does this stand out to you the most?
Lauren: Juneteenth is a great example – since being recognized as a federal holiday, it’s become a launch pad to share the experience of freedom from the Black perspective with the masses, including our long-standing tradition of incorporating music, food, games and laughter into our celebrations. At work, we’ve strengthened our stance on inclusivity by creating space for conversations about the importance of Juneteenth, and we’ve utilized Employee Belonging groups (EBGs) to activate around this holiday to ensure our Black employees feel seen and valued.
Chris: It's essential to acknowledge the culture beyond historical milestones. One of my favorite examples is the intersection of Black culture and the rise of social media. This shift has been revolutionary, offering a platform where stories can be told authentically – where start-up brands that faced rejection from physical stores are now selling out entire collections online, and entertainers once overlooked by major studios are forging their own successful digital paths. It's inspiring to see how Black individuals have seized this opportunity by amplifying their voices, spreading awareness, and pushing boundaries. I aim to bring that same sense of empowerment, innovation and audacity to my own role at Old Navy.
Collaborations are one way the Gap Inc. portfolio has infused the influence of Black culture into our product. What does this mean for our brands, communities and customers?
Lauren: These collaborations help introduce and reintroduce diverse communities to our brands as a viable option for style for all members of the family. They widen the audience of people talking about, wearing and socializing our brands. Collabs also reinforce our legacy of social relevance and create confidence in our ability to lead culture. And all of this is so impactful to Black and Brown communities because representation matters. Not only are these collaborations culturally relevant to our communities as they see their style and swag represented authentically, they cultivate a sense of pride to see our community’s influencers and icons receiving the credit they deserve for the impact they have on American culture.
Chris: Collaborations highlight and celebrate both the richness and diversity of Black culture. They create a space where cultural influences are not only acknowledged but become part of our brand narratives. Even more important, these collaborations become authentic, inclusive connection points for our customers. But once these connections are established, the subsequent step is just as important — supporting and nurturing them. This involves actively engaging with the community, listening to feedback, and ensuring that our brands’ commitment to diversity and inclusion is a continued part of our identity.
Celebrating moments like Black History Month starts with cultivating a sense of belonging within our teams, and every role has an impact. What about yours?
Lauren: At Old Navy, we look for ways to create environments that nurture our diverse talent and make sure they feel welcome. This includes mentorship, participation in EBGs, pulse check surveys, and an open-door policy that encourages candid feedback and suggestions. As the ones on the frontlines of customers, some of the best ideas come from field employees, so taking the time to ask curious questions in store visits goes a long way. It’s all about listening to learn.
And as co-chairs of BLACK@Gap Inc., Chris and I constantly look for new ways to bridge the gap between the field and HQ to create consistency through allyship and shared accountability. We use our positions as leaders in the field to share perspectives from our experiences and our communities to help influence our work – from hiring, onboarding, promotions, retention and beyond.
Chris: As BLACK@Gap Inc. co-chairs and field leaders, Lauren and I are committed to infusing the values of inclusion and diversity into our day-to-day message. It's not a checkbox, it's a constant in everything we do. I am super excited about the museum activation taking place later this month, hosted in partnership with BLACK@Gap Inc., where I will guide a group of employees through the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. This will be an opportunity for education, relationship-building, and connection. Similar activations will take place in other states, and it’s great to see this thread of belonging across multiple locations. We’re making sure these opportunities to come together and celebrate matter deeply, regardless of where you are employed.
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