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Gap Inc. CEO Talks Inclusivity, Purpose and Profits

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Next month, Gap Inc. will issue a new kind of report — one that assesses the retailer’s efforts at inclusivity.

That’s according to Gap Inc. president and chief executive officer Sonia Syngal, who at the retailer’s annual meeting, held virtually Tuesday, stated: “On our path to becoming the most inclusive company in the world, we created an action plan focused on three areas — employee belonging, customer belonging and community belonging.”

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She said to deliver these 2025 commitments, Gap Inc. has mobilized teams against critical programs “that enable us to create products and experiences for all, with all. In June, we will release our first-year progress report on this work.”

After navigating through the pandemic, “We emerged with a clarity and conviction of what our path forward needed to look like,” the CEO said. “Last year, we crystallized our strategy that leads with our competitive strengths, addresses areas where we have previously lacked focus and execution, and enabled us to build toward growth. ‘Power Plan 2023’ is our three-year vision to grow purpose-led, billion-dollar lifestyle brands that shape people’s way of life, deliver consistent growth through omni-dominance in North America and partner to reach new customers.”

Gap Inc.’s goals for 2025 include doubling the representation of Black and Latinx employees at its headquarters and increasing Black employees in U.S. store leader roles by 50 percent.

She said Gap, which in 2020 lost $665 million on sales of $13.8 billion compared with profits of $351 million on sales of $16.4 billion in 2019, is the largest clothing company in America with 183 million customers globally.

“While our business will always face macro factors that present us with headwinds, we now have a strategic playbook to navigate changes ahead, and this year we are focused on our stated goal of returning to profitable growth.”

Gap Inc. has also focused on streamlining by closing significant numbers of Gap and Banana Republic stores, and recently selling off Intermix and Janie & Jack and shuttering the Hill City brand. Gap Inc. also operates Old Navy and Athleta.

But Syngal said the company is on the offense with “purpose-led marketing, strength in relevant product categories and a digitally dominant approach. We closed fiscal 2020 having gained meaningful market share, quarter-over-quarter. We grew our online business to $6 billion and expanded our reach. Our market share performance was a strong indicator that our actions are taking hold.

“Last year we also articulated our purpose, our North Star — inclusive by design. From Day One, we have been guided by the belief that our business should and can be a force for good.…What our customers have continually reinforced, now more than ever, is they want to wear their values. The brand names on their clothing labels matter. It is deeply personal.

“For us, success isn’t just delivering results, it’s how we deliver,” Syngal said. “We are working harder than ever to make our business more sustainable, by setting bold goals, designing new programs and partnering with others to change our industry for the better. Every day we source and make product that helps protect and restore our environment and the natural resources we all rely on.

“Whether providing critical career skills or mentoring in on-the-job training in our stores, or setting aggressive climate targets in our operations and supply chain, or insuring that the community connected to our manufacturing footprint have access to clean water now and for generations to come, our signature programs and long-standing partnerships around the world are creating transformative change.”