P.A.C.E Gap Inc. – Social Development Transparency: Better Now than Before

8 Years ago Gap admitted to Possible Child Labour Problems in the factories that made their clothes (be it for Old Navy, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix or Gap). History is never forgotten but any hit a company takes from its Brand, it is crucial for changes to be made (on top admitting their wrongdoings).

The Unexpected Email I Received…

A day or so ago an email popped up – it was from Banana Republic Canada “A Letter from our CEO”. The first things to pop out is its message “One Million Women. One Million Stories. One Million Lives Changed”. It was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting that they were pledging to continue on helping women, who make their clothes, with having a better life via proper education.

The program is called P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) and is not intended to be reached at a factory level only but through their personal growth and development. The program has been around (but in the background) since they refocused their strategy in 2006. The goal is educate one million women by the end of 2020 and more information can be found here at bewhatspossible.com or at Gap PACE Program.

This method is used to sustain and reassure the public/investors that Gap Inc is doing something and that they have learned from their mistakes. If you asses their board members, you can see that it is comprised of 11 members from all over. We will never know or get to see if the team is much larger than that and who manages the data collection for it.

Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E program is very high level but that feeling is covered by its feel good messaging through its strong usage in social media (youtube, instagram, twitter – with their unique hashtags #1Mwomen #pace, etc…). The one thing that stood out the most is the usage of personal stories and video visuals. This is a highly effective tool in captivating people’s attention (which always gives me the “fuzzy” feeling). I give them my utmost respect for being transparent. It is not easy and holds them liable/accountable to their actions. Any slip found in their program could lead to a greater damage to their brand reputation hence why most companies are very vague in what they wish the public to know. A few questions I do have are: How were the stats measured? How does one determine whether lifestyle has improved over a short period of time in an areas where the population often supersedes those who work for the company? What kind of gaps are there for the women once they have the education but yet have a culture where male dominance/leaders have the ultimate control? It’s a complex issue and perhaps it’s things to look into for the future also. Nonetheless, I am happy about the movement and it’ll be worthwhile to learn more about it and see it spread/influence others to do the same.

To Ponder on: Does knowing that a retailer has taken immediate actions to rectify its problem clear them out of your books? Or would you still keep a close eye?

Photo source: Be What’s Possible.com

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