Our Opportunity Hiring programs – which began in 2007 with our early-career talent program This Way ONward – focus on helping underrepresented groups gain access to job opportunities and advancement. By supporting Opportunity youth and expanding our reach to refugees, English Language Learners (ELLs), and those impacted by the justice system, Gap Inc. benefits with new talent recruitment and filling essential frontline roles in our stores and distribution centers (DCs).
The populations we target in our Opportunity Hiring programs face significant barriers to employment and economic mobility from degree requirements for certain jobs to systemic factors such as racism and discrimination; access to transportation; limited English language skills; knowledge about American work culture, processes, and networks; and more. These individuals rarely get a fair shot at employment, facing hurdles such as aggressive background checks by employers, bias and discrimination, and lack of knowledge about job application protocols and modern work technologies.
As a business, we face a competitive market for hiring alongside a limited talent pool. Our DCs have high labor needs due to an increase in online sales as well as turnover rates in these jobs. By strategically addressing the barriers people who are marginalized by workforce development systems face in getting a job, we create opportunities to tap into these populations and fill our talent needs.
As a major employer, one of our largest corporate assets is jobs, and our strategy for Opportunity Hiring programs is to leverage the scale of our business and influence to expand economic mobility for underrepresented communities. We do this by providing a:
• Way In: We build robust local hiring pipelines while removing barriers to employment.
• Way Up: We define clear, transparent, and equitable advancement pathways.
• Way for All: We lead by example and influence other employers to create pathways for economic mobility.
While still in the early stages, we envision Opportunity Hiring becoming a key strategy for our DC labor model. While our goal is to expand programs, we start small at specific campuses to test hiring and advancement practices. Our people-first approach prioritizes societal impact and meaningful partnerships with organizations, collaboratives, and other employers.
Engaging new community and national partners has been critical to our success by helping us identify and recruit talent, support the unique needs of new hires, and develop solutions for two of the biggest hurdles in job retention among these groups: access to transportation and language barriers. Partners also provide advice on how to tailor our recruiting, onboarding processes, and create inclusivity training.
Spanish Language Pilot in Fishkill, New York: Our pilot at our DC in Fishkill, New York, is building a pipeline for Spanish-speaking people by translating recruiting and onboarding materials and offering Spanish-language orientation sessions for new hires. We also match Spanish-speaking employees with bilingual managers.
Refugee Employment in Groveport, Ohio: As a member of the Tent Coalition for Refugees, an anchor of our commitment has been partnering with Jewish Family Services Columbus to identify and place refugees in jobs at our Groveport, Ohio, DC. In addition to helping with recruitment, Jewish Family Services supports our program by providing translation services, cultural sensitivity training, and consulting on how to address issues like transportation. We also joined the Welcome.US CEO Council to amplify our support and commitments to the refugee community.
Fair Chance Employment: We partner with Second Chance Business Coalition and support the Ban the Box campaign, which encourages companies to eliminate restrictions on hiring justice-impacted people. By instituting fair hiring practices that remove discriminatory barriers, more companies can open the doors for the underrepresented Fair Chance community of jobseekers.