This Way ONward

This Way ONward employee

Unlocking career potential, one young person at a time.

This Way ONward is a program that boosts confidence in young people looking for an opportunity to shine, with a focus on serving Black and Latinx communities. Through one-on-one mentorship, coaching, and on-the-job skill building, This Way ONward provides a career rocket to a more secure future.

Goals

Progress

By 2025

Hire 5% of entry-level store employees from This Way ONward

Reach 20,000 youth through This Way ONward

2021

3%

10,600+

 

Our Approach

Since 2007, This Way ONward (previously This Way Ahead) has provided structured training and valuable work experience for people aged 16–24, giving young people new life skills and confidence that supports their overall growth and employability. The program—which we have expanded through both local and national partnerships —also develops leadership skills among the employees who mentor This Way ONward participants.  

We integrate the lessons we learn about hiring for potential and providing the right supports for retail store employees to thrive, particularly those who are from underrepresented groups. Through Old Navy’s commitment to hire 5 percent of entry-level brand associates through This Way ONward by 2025—the vast majority of whom identify as people of color—the program also supports Gap Inc.’s Equality & Belonging goal to increase representation of Black employees by 50 percent in store leader roles in the U.S. by 2025.

To engage more people, Old Navy invests in high-profile storytelling campaigns that have featured celebrities like Magic Johnson and RuPaul. These campaigns promote the power of mentorship and show how hiring for potential not credential cultivates diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging

Here’s how the program works:

  1. Our employees connect with community partners who provide youth with job training and volunteer to teach youth skills they need to get and keep a job.
  2. When our teams are looking for high-potential talent, they interview youth and hire for potential, not credential.  
  3. When This Way ONward associates begin working, they receive post-hire support, including ongoing coaching from their store manager and a job coach from the community partner. They’re also paired with a Big Sib, a seasoned peer who serves as their go-to for questions and advice.  

Old Navy is committed to not only providing a way into a job, but also creating opportunities for advancement and the ability for This Way ONward alumni to build a career here.  Alumni can participate in training and mentorship workshops, aimed at building awareness and motivation to explore career pathways, while expanding their network and skills. This Way ONward alumni experience economic mobility by successfully moving beyond frontline positions at Old Navy stores. 

Check out the latest alumni report.

How Richard Greene Learned about the Power of Relationships   

A self-described optimist, high school senior Richard Greene was feeling discouraged after being rejected for job after job while trying to save money for college. Then the director of his local Boys & Girls Club encouraged him to apply for This Way ONward, and with support from his parents, he was successful.

When Richard started work at Old Navy, he found himself surrounded by a supportive team, including his store leader, a job coach and a “Big Sib” coworker. Richard was in his element and enjoyed interacting with customers and sharpening his leadership skills. “Having a job you enjoy keeps you present,” he said. “It helped me leave the stress of the world behind. This Way ONward really taught me not to look at a job as a job, but as an opportunity.”

Richard also began to see that the real impact of work wasn’t the paycheck but the people. “It was satisfying to see the money in my bank account continue to climb,” he said, “but eventually, it was more about the relationships I developed with people.”