Until recently, Gap Inc. was on my short list of leading socially responsible corporations in this country. This is a company that has trailblazed new paths in how it treats employees, the community and the environment.
How many companies produce reports that ask What Is A Company’s Role in Society? How many companies have an SVP of social responsibility? Well, the Gap needs this executive now more than ever.
Although the Gap’s credentials as a progressive employer are unassailable, the company has consistently failed to enforce its own policies with regard to managing its outsourced manufacturing suppliers around the globe. On Sunday the UK’s Observer broke the story about underage workers toiling in a New Delhi sweatshop run by one of the Gap’s outsourced manufacturers – a subcontractor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time this has happened.
And there’s this: one month ago the Gap lost a laptop containing the personal data of 800,000 job applicants. What these sensitive records – some contained social security numbers – were doing on a laptop held by a third-party service provider was never explained.
So while how you treat your employees, the community and your environment is extremely important, let’s also not forget that relationships in orbit around the Gap – with job candidates and third-party contract workers – are also part of what defines a socially responsible employer.
For starters, the Gap needs to make a deeper commitment to how it manages third-party manufacturers – 90 people to watch 2,000 suppliers aren’t enough.
If I worked there, I might not quit but I would try to push them to change. If I were a customer, investor or business partner, I would apply whatever leverage is possible to impress the Gap about the need for serious reforms. If I were a job candidate I would pass, at least for now.
What about you?
Rusty Weston, My Global Career • San Francisco, Ca • http://www.myglobalcareer.com/ •