SAN FRANCISCO, January 31, 2019 /3BL Media/ – Global retailer Gap Inc. joins Business Call to Action (BCtA) with a commitment to improve the lives of one million women and adolescent girls through its life skills and technical training programme. Launched in 2007, Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) programme was initially created to support women working in the global apparel industry and has expanded training to new locations such as schools, universities, and other manufacturing communities. The company currently operates P.A.C.E. in 16 countries and, to date, 200,000 participants have completed the programme.
Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power (in 2015 dollars) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. Over 220 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises, and working in 70 countries, have responded to BCtA by committing to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water and sanitation, education and other critical services.
“We believe that our business succeeds when everyone has the opportunity to thrive, and this is even more critical for the women touched by our global supply chain. Women who complete our life-changing P.A.C.E. programme not only gain self-confidence at home and at work, but often become agents of change for their families, workplaces, and communities. We’re proud of the positive ripple effects of the P.A.C.E. programme, and we’re continuing to scale the programme through new and innovative partnerships to reach women around the world,” said Art Peck, chief executive officer of Gap Inc.
Although women comprise approximately 80 percent of the global garment industry workforce, relatively few advance to higher-level management positions and many lack access to the education and skills training they need to support their personal and professional growth. Recognising this, P.A.C.E. provides the foundational life skills, technical training and education women need to advance both in the workplace and in their personal lives. The curriculum, which is contextualized to fit local priorities and customs, includes courses on communication, problem-solving, decision-making, time and stress management and financial literacy. P.A.C.E. participants report increased knowledge, skills and productivity, as well as higher self-esteem and confidence, as documented in the programme’s evaluation results.
“Empowering women in the workplace and in the communities where a company works is known to have a positive impact on both business productivity and community livelihoods,” said Paula Pelaez, Head of BCtA. “This is an excellent example of how an inclusive business model can make a significant contribution to the SDGs, in this case SDG 5, Gender Equality.
Based on positive results from programme evaluation, the company expanded P.A.C.E. beyond the workplace setting to community locations in 2013 and then to adolescent girls in 2016 in order to help even more women and young girls to be confident, resourceful and able to plan for their future. More recently, Gap Inc. continued to expand the programme by establishing certified master trainers, making it easier for P.A.C.E. teams and implementing partners to share tools and resources. The company has also begun to license P.A.C.E. to select strategic vendors that can lead the programme in any of their facilities – even those that do not produce products for Gap Inc. – providing even more women access to P.A.C.E., while deepening the company’s relationship with its strategic vendors.
Gap Inc. worked with the International Center for Research on Women, a global institute dedicated to empowering women, to design the programme, and is working with CARE, Project Concern International, and select NGOs and academic institutions to deliver the training. The programme is free to all who participate; it is either offered through their place of employment, or though community sessions led by Gap Inc. staff and partners.