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As You Sow Planting Seeds For Social Change
 

Gap Inc.

Gap Inc. sources apparel from more than 3,000 supplier facilities. The company has been both a lightning rod for criticism by activists and a leader in experimenting with independent monitoring at supplier facilities in Central America. In 2004, in a unique partnership with As You Sow and shareholder colleagues, the company took a big step forward as a leader on supply chain issues by publishing the first extensive, detailed public supply chain report about its performance in monitoring its code of vendor conduct.

Working on behalf of Domini Social Investments, As You Sow brought together other concerned shareholders with Gap management and proposed development of a model reporting template that would provide a quantitative basis for evaluating performance.

"Creating sustainable and scalable solutions across the retail apparel and garment manufacturing industries is immensely difficult [...] collaborative multi-stakeholder engagement is the only way to create sustainable change industry wide."

-Gap Inc. CEO Paul Pressler

We believed Gap might be willing to issue a model vendor standards report because it had previously bucked its industry peers in the mid-1990s, agreeing to independent monitoring of a supplier factory in El Salvador, the first major retailer to agree to such outside scrutiny. After months of discussions we agreed on a collaborative approach. A tool was developed to assess a factory's overall level of compliance through quantifiable metrics. The tool rates factories according to the number, type and pattern of compliance violations during a 12-month period. We worked closely with Gap along with our shareholder colleagues in the development of the metrics as well as other features of the landmark report released in May 2004.

Gap's second corporate responsibility report was issued in July 2005 and continued to provide hard data on conditions at supply plants in the same manner as the report. In response to comments that the first report lacked independent assessments of its supplier program, the second report includes critiques by two respected firms -- Social Accountability International and Verite. As You Sow was kept closely informed by Gap about the development of methodology and format for both Gap reports and was given opportunities for feedback and critique.

Gap has continued to publish these reports, now on a biennial basis, and to seek input from As You Sow and our stakeholder colleagues on how to improve each subsequent report. The most recent report can be accessed here.

 

 



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