The Public Reporting Working Group (PRWG) welcomes Gap Inc.’s second social responsibility report, issued today. The report focuses primarily on the company’s efforts to address working conditions in its global supply chain. The PRWG said, “We believe that Gap has made substantial progress in focusing on the connections between its core business, systemic global concerns and workers’ lives.”
The PRWG—a group of socially responsible Gap shareholders-- provided input and guidance to the Gap as it prepared its report. The PRWG includes Domini Social Investments, the Calvert Group, the As you Sow Foundation, CREA: Center for Reflection, Education and Action and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
The PRWG’s statement appears in the Gap’s report (p. 52):
“Corporations like Gap stand in a critical place in the world. Global supply chains take companies into nearly every corner of the developing world, placing them in the position of buyer, mediator, and labor rights consultant. Because Gap earns substantial revenues from its global supply chain, it bears important responsibility for workers who manufacture its products. They have an opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of individuals by their responsible actions.
We believe that Gap has made substantial progress in focusing on the connections between its core business, systemic global concerns, and workers’ lives. We commend Gap for recognizing that brands and retailers contribute to poor working conditions through unreasonable expectations regarding speed of delivery and cost, inefficient purchasing practices, inconsistent labor standards and means of enforcement. Simple changes in sleeve length or shirt color can drive unreasonable conditions on the factory floor as workers are pushed to meet changing demands.
The information provided in this report – specific data points, plus frank discussion of the systemic issues driving recurring problems – can empower both investors and consumers to make more responsible choices. We must recognize that companies and consumers who view fashion as disposable, and investors narrowly focused on quarterly earnings, are also part of the problem.
This report touches on Gap’s response to the expiration of the Multifiber Arrangement (MFA) – a significant shift in the global supply system that can have devastating consequences in some developing economies. We encourage Gap to share more information about their approach, while continuing to work with others to mitigate the impact of this shift.
As Gap’s new compliance database becomes operative, we expect future reports to provide additional specific and aggregate data to assess factory performance while relating the data to the systemic issues. We would like to see a future report highlight the state of the U.S. garment industry. We encourage Gap to broaden the scope of its reporting to address the full range of issues covered by the Global Reporting Initiative. We look forward to comparable reports from other companies.
We hope that this report will deepen dialogue among corporations, consumers and investors – all of us who are players in this global system – about the impact of our decisions on the lives of those who do not have the luxury to invest, or to change their wardrobe every season. This is the broader dialogue that socially responsible investing seeks to foster.”
The full report is available online at www.gapinc.com.
Adam Kanzer, Esq., Domini Social Investments LLC (212-217-1100)
Alya Z. Kayal, Esq., Calvert Group Ltd. (301-951-4864)
Conrad MacKerron, As You Sow Foundation (415-391-3212, ext. 31)
Ruth Rosenbaum, TC, PhD., CREA: Center for Reflection, Education and Action (860-527-0455)
David M. Schilling, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (212-870-2928)