A New Paradigm for Worker Well-Being
by William Lee & Jyotsna Mahendra, Global Sustainability at Gap Inc.
September 19, 2017
At Gap Inc., we are deeply committed to making sure that the people who make our clothes work in safe conditions and are treated with respect. But we see the opportunity to build beyond this foundational commitment to create more meaningful and lasting progress on the factory floor.
A crucial ingredient in our strategy is how we partner with factory management and garment workers to help drive continuous improvement in the workplace. In recent years, our Supplier Sustainability team has been focused on moving beyond an “assess and remediate” model to a more innovative approach – with more cooperative, productive, and positive working environments as the end goal. This includes:
- Consolidating our supplier base to focus on partners that share our values and goals.
- Updating our Code of Vendor Conduct to better align with our environmental and human rights policies.
- Developing and delivering trainings around topics like communication in the workplace, problem solving, grievance handling and effective negotiations for workers and managers.
- Measuring and improving workers’ sense of value and sense of engagement at work by helping our vendors make well-being investments in their workforce.
Beyond the changes we’ve made within our own supply chain, we also see the opportunity to help drive broader progress for the apparel industry. We recognize that a company like Gap Inc. is only one piece of the broader puzzle. The apparel industry as a whole still faces systemic challenges.
To help tackle some of these challenges, we frequently partner with governments, NGOs, trade unions and other retailers to come up with innovative solutions.
A prime example is the Better Work Program, a multi-stakeholder collaboration led by the International Labor Organization (ILO) to create a joint approach to improving the social and labor performance of garment and footwear factories. In fact, Gap Inc. was one of the founding members of the Better Work initiative in 2001 with the creation of the Better Factories Cambodia program.
Joo Jun, one of the Program Managers of the Workplace Cooperation Program, working with a committee member.
To learn more about how our partnership with Better Work has created a new approach to improving workplace cooperation and worker engagement, via the creation of the Better Work Academy, check out our recent Q&A with the ILO’s Tara Rangarajan.