The Western world was shocked when it found out the sweatshop conditions in which some clothes were made in the developing world, where workers – usually women, but often children – were working interminable hours for minimum pay in hellish conditions. To take one famous brand as an example, Gap take the welfare of workers who make their clothes very seriously, and in the past haven’t been scared to sever ties with suppliers who’re not playing by the rules.
This is why the company have put in place a series of practices to protect workers’ rights. The Gap partner with all of their suppliers to ensure safe, fair and healthy working conditions for the people who fashion their clothes. Together, they’re aiding the ability of their suppliers to manage and improve their practices, designing industry-leading programmes to help worker and manager relations, assessing and improving working conditions to meet international standards, and ensuring transparency about all of their efforts.
Over a million people work in the factories that produce The Gap’s clothes. The company want to ensure that they work in conditions where they are treated with dignity, fairness and respect in conditions of safety.
This isn’t always as easy as it may seem at first.
Consumer trends and expectations of low prices are placing greater demands than ever on production timelines and capabilities— this can ultimately impact on people working in the garment industry. If a celebrity’s seen wearing a certain T-shirt, and demand for the design multiplies X10 in the course of a day, the extra demand that can be put on factories is intense.
To help manage these shifts in the industry, The Gap continue to form partnerships across the apparel industry to ensure that the people in the supply chain work in safe, fair conditions.
Since launching the Supplier Sustainability program in 1994, The Gap has transformed their approach to improving facility working conditions, by developing innovative programs that go beyond simply assessing and remediating issues in facilities.
They’ve consolidated their supplier base so that they’re now working with 25 percent fewer, which makes it easier to monitor their performance and standard of wellbeing.
The company have built a holistic sustainability team so that they can make progress with their suppliers.
The Gap work with governments, suppliers and NGOs to come up with innovative solutions to serious issues. This isn’t an easy issue, but by working together, Gap, and all companies can raise working conditions throughout the world to help raise people out of poverty.