Gap Inc.’s ESG Progress Report: Cotton, Worker Well-Being, PFAS and More
Gap Inc. released its annual environmental, social and governance report Tuesday touting progress in its goals to expand access to clean water and improve opportunities for women.
The Old Navy parent’s 2023 ESG Report highlighted growing participation in programs it created to support women at work, at home and in their communities. As of Jan. 28, 2023—the end of Gap Inc.’s fiscal year—nearly 1.3 million women and girls had participated in the company’s Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) and Reimagining Industry to Support Equality (RISE) initiatives.
More from Sourcing Journal
ESG Legal Experts on Regulatory Upheaval: 'Know What Is Coming Your Way'
Gap Inc. first introduced P.A.C.E. in 2007 with the goal of providing women and girls with “foundational life skills, technical training and support.” In 2019, it partnered with BSR, HERproject, CARE International and ILO-IFC Better Work to create Empower@Work. Now known as RISE, the program aims to drive collaboration across the apparel industry and streamline women’s empowerment programs in factories to reduce redundancy and expand reach and impact. This year will see Gap Inc. begin to transition its P.A.C.E. Workplace program to RISE, the company noted.
Gap Inc. had initially aimed to reach just 1 million women and girls through its P.A.C.E. initiative by last year—a goal it reached a year early in 2021.
The company is currently shooting for 100 percent of its “strategic” factories to participate in P.A.C.E./RISE by 2025. So far, 94 percent have “institutionalized” the programs as part of their human resources management systems. Just 35 percent, however, have at least 50 percent of their female workers enrolled in either program.
Last year, Gap Inc. exceeded its goal to facilitate improved access to clean water and sanitation for 2 million people by 2023. By the end of the 2033 fiscal year, it had reached more than 2.4 million people. The company established a new goal for 2030 of reaching 5 million people. Also by 2030, it is now aiming to reduce water use and “replenish water to nature” equivalent to the water used in manufacturing apparel at company-operated facilities.
Gap Inc. made sizable progress in transitioning away from PFC-based finishes as well. In 2020, 7 percent of apparel and accessories units with water repellent or stain resistant properties were produced without PFAS. In 2021, this increased to 38 percent and last year it jumped to 95 percent. As of Jan. 1, “most” products available for purchase were produced without PFC-based finishes. “Due to transportation and store inventory timelines and strategies,” however, some styles with PFC finishes remained available for purchase, the company noted.
Gap Inc. has similarly set goals around reducing its carbon footprint. By 2030, it is targeting a 30 percent reduction in Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions and a 90 percent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. In both cases, it is using 2017 as its baseline. It also intends to use 100 percent renewable energy for owned and operated facilities by 2030. The company only reported data from 2021, noting that last year’s data will be available later in 2023. In each case, it said it was on track to reach its target.
Last year, Gap Inc. sourced 81 percent of its cotton from “more sustainable” sources—Better Cotton, verified U.S.-grown cotton, organic, in-conversion, recycled or regenerative cotton—and 16 percent of its polyester from recycled sources. It has set goals of sourcing 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable sources and at least 45 percent of its polyester from recycled sources by 2025.
The company is also working to purge wasteful packaging. It intends to eliminate unnecessary or problematic plastics from packaging to consumers by 2025 and from packaging to businesses by 2030. By the end of 2022, 49 percent of Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic shopper bags had transitioned to paper bags.
Similarly, the company wants half of all plastic packaging to be 100 percent recycled content for consumers by 2025 and for packaging to businesses by 2030. By the end of 2022, half of the content in its polymailers and 100 percent of the content in the polybags it uses in logistics were from recycled sources.
In addition to increasing participating in its P.A.C.E. and RISE programs, Gap Inc. has also set goals for women’s empowerment at its partner factories.
By 2025, it is aiming for 100 percent of its strategic factories to achieve gender parity at the supervisor level. By the end of 2022, only 18 percent had achieved this. At the same time, 49 percent of supervisors in Gap Inc.’s suppliers’ strategic factories are women.
The company also intends for 100 percent of its factories to implement prevention and response management systems, as well as training to address gender-based violence, by 2025. So far, 46 percent have accomplished this. Fifty-three percent of factories had all employees trained on gender-based violence prevention.
Gap Inc. signaled it was on track for 20,000 youth to participate in its This Way ONward program by 2025. Since it launched the program in 2007, 15,000 youth have participated. Four percent of Old Navy entry-level store employees were hired through the program, Gap Inc. said. The company has set a goal of hitting 5 percent by 2025.