Meet the Inspiring New Leadership of Gap Inc.’s Equality & Belonging Groups
by Mark Daniel Snyder, Communications Manager
Carrie Thomas, Director of Loyalty Marketing, and Chair of the African American Network Group (AANG) wants “to see community and connection among underrepresented groups within corporate America. I am a Black woman. Therefore, my experiences and background are different from the majority. This includes my hair, my body, my expressions and more. Instead of having to conform to the majority's mindset and views, I want my authenticity to be celebrated and embraced. If more people are willing to embrace individual differences, we would be able to eliminate the societal expectations around workplace environments.”
Abby Davisson, Senior Director of Gap Foundation and founder/Chair of the Gap Parents group, also wants to make a difference in the lives of her coworkers. “I founded Gap Parents because I believe strongly that Gap Inc. is a great place to be a working parent,” she said. “When I interviewed for a role within Gap Foundation over 6 years ago, I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with my first child. My future boss and the company took a chance on me and hired me even though I wouldn’t be able to start right away. I’ve since gone on to have another child and I know I lucked out by landing at an employer with a family-friendly culture and plenty of benefits that support working parents. Even so, each working parent here ends up reinventing the wheel: individually determining how to take parental leave, arrange childcare, enroll in preschool and elementary school, etc. This is isolating for employees and costly to the company. I wanted to change that.”
Gap Parents is one of Gap Inc.’s seven Equality and Belonging Network Groups (EBNGs), which are employee-led organizations centered around historically underrepresented identities and experiences that provide opportunities for cross-cultural learning, mentoring, and relationship building. The groups represent and advocate for the inclusion and celebration of all Gap Inc. employees, and that informs how we show up for our customers. The company’s original five groups (AANG, ASIA, HOLA, GEAR, and Gap WIL) welcomed two new additions to the broader community this year: Gap Parents and Gap VETS. Their leaders serve a two-year term.
Anika Briner, Senior Manager of Onboarding Process & Technology, is among the 13 new leaders of the network groups. Asked why she chose to serve as Vice Chair of Gap Women in Leadership (GapWIL), she shared, “I've worked in HR my entire career and have had countless coaching conversations with women either in positions of leadership or aspiring towards one. There’s a common thread of how lonely it can feel on the journey and how starving we are to find our allies,” she said. “I think there's a huge opportunity for us to use our collective voice at this critical time in our industry and in the world to open doors for a future generation of leaders.”
Christian Cabuay, Product Manager and Vice Chair of ASIA group says he’s an activist at heart and, as an author, producer, and artist, uses his creative talents to get people thinking. “My role in the Equality & Belonging groups is similar to my community work -- a disruptive connector. I’m a bridge between the educators, artists, gangsters, culture bearers, entrepreneurs, and activists in my hood to the shiny walls of Gap. I like to stir up discussions by asking WHY and engage in topics that aren’t ever brought up.”
Timm Zywna, Sr. Manager, Talent Management and Vice Chair of GEAR, the LGBTQ+ networking group, said “Growing up gay and not feeling accepted for who I was has inspired me to help others who are underserved, disregarded, ostracized, harassed, persecuted, or sidelined. I place a high value on honoring what makes each person unique and believe we gain greater wisdom when we work with others who have different backgrounds, cultures, talents, and experiences.”