August 2, 2009 -- Gap Inc. today issued the following statement in response to a story in the Sunday Times of London mentioning Gap Inc. and the environmental impact of the factories we do business with in Lesotho.
“For more than 15 years, Gap Inc. has worked hard to bring fair and safe working conditions to factories around the world -- while minimizing impact on the environment. We’re proud of our work in this regard, as detailed in our four Social Responsibility reports issued since 2004.”
“Any factory that makes our products must adhere to our standards – it’s non-negotiable. We have and will sever ties with factories that don’t consistently meet these standards, which include requirements related to proper management, oversight, and workplace and environmental conduct.”
“We have a team of 80 employees around the world who regularly conduct announced and unannounced visits to factories that make our products to root out and address any areas of concern.”
“We have a long history in Africa and we remain fully committed to improving the lives of the workers in the factories who make our products. We have made significant investments in Africa over the past 10 years - especially in Lesotho - and we have dedicated resources on the ground who continue to work tirelessly alongside other industry partners to address the ongoing issues of environment, HIV/AIDs and overall working conditions in Africa.”
“As soon as we were alerted of these issues, we immediately investigated the situation on the ground in Lesotho, commissioned an independent monitoring organization to conduct its own investigation, and placed one of the factories involved on immediate notice until our investigation is complete and all issues are adequately addressed.”
“Our primary focus, however, continues to be on the workers and their community. In keeping with our strong and transparent history on any sourcing issues, we will continue to act swiftly, decisively and thoughtfully in doing everything possible to protect the workers at the factories that make our products and the communities in which they live and work.”
“We fully recognize the importance for countries such as Lesotho to further evolve its environmental infrastructure and applaud the fact that these types of stories attract more energy and focus on this issue. We can’t solve this alone, but to help contribute towards a solution, we’re taking these immediate additional steps:
1. Gap Inc. will conduct a thorough environmental assessment in Lesotho in partnership with an independent environmental organization.
2. We will work with factory management to improve training and knowledge levels around appropriate waste handling disposal procedures.
3. We will convene a supplier summit in Lesotho with a view towards communicating policies, procedures and expectations. This will be open to all garment manufacturers, brands, trade unions, NGOs and the Lesotho government.”
For more information, please see Gap Inc.’s newly launched social responsibility report and website at www.gapinc.com/socialresponsibility.