The United States encourages American businesses with employees around the world to protect their workers’ rights and decrease their negative effects on the environment.
Gap Inc., the largest U.S. specialty retail company, has heeded the call and implemented policies to improve business performance, protect human rights and reduce environmental impacts.
Gap works to build “a more sustainable future for our business, our communities, and the planet,” said Vice President Judy Adler in an April statement.
Gap offers skills-training programs to millions of people employed in its supply chain. Launched over 15 years ago, its Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) program has trained over 1 million women and girls in technical skills within Gap Inc.’s supply chain and community settings.
The company also fights gender-based violence (GBV) through its GBV Prevention and Response Program. The program aims to increase awareness and strengthen supplier-factory policies to improve their response to GBV. Since it began in 2016, the program has reached more than 400,000 people employed in GAP Inc.’s supply chain.
To reduce its environmental impact, Gap Inc. invested millions of dollars in a wastewater treatment facility at a manufacturing unit in Ahmedabad, India. This facility saves 2.5 billion liters of water annually and thus helps maintain the local community’s access to fresh water.
The U.S. Department of State is honoring Gap Inc. with a 2022 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE) for Responsible Business Operations, specifically for taking care of people beyond their direct employees. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Gap’s suppliers were unable to pay their employees, Gap stepped in and negotiated payment of wages owed by their suppliers to those employees to ensure financial security for those most vulnerable to the economic impacts of the pandemic. Its action also supported an uninterrupted supply chain at a time the world saw an upheaval due to the pandemic.
The ACE recognizes “a company’s commitment to upholding American values abroad in all its operations, including respecting human rights and labor rights, ethical supply chain management, and promoting democracy,” says the State Department.
The 2022 Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence also was awarded to a small company for responsible business operations and to companies for climate resilience and inclusive economic growth.