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New Balance Takes a Page Out of Gap’s Playbook to Empower Women Workers

On Tuesday, New Balance took steps to advance female worker well-being throughout its supply chain by adopting Gap Inc.’s Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) program, according to the FDRA.

Gap launched P.A.C.E. in 2007 to advance the interests of women in its global workforce, who hold relatively few management positions in the supply chain despite the overwhelming prevalence of female workers. Gap recognized that female supply chain workers needed better representation in its training programs and more attuned educational courses.

New Balance is following in those footsteps and providing education and training to improve the lives of its women workers—which make up the vast majority of its global supply chain, as well.

“By tapping the power of industry collaboration, we can make an immediate impact to create significant change and quickly improve the lives of women workers,” Monica Gorman, New Balance’s vice president of responsible leadership and global compliance, said in a statement published by the FDRA.

“Women make up more than 80 percent of the workforce in New Balance’s global footwear supply chain and we recognize there is a great need for increased education and skill training to help advance their professional growth,” Gorman said. “We’re excited to adopt the P.A.C.E. program and build on more than a decade of their valuable expertise and experience to benefit our suppliers.”

The program will include courses on effective communication, financial and legal literacy, general and reproductive health, time and stress management and problem solving. New Balance expects to continue growing the program over the years to adapt P.A.C.E. into its entire supply chain. The initial rollout of the program will start with two of New Balance’s supplier footwear factories in Vietnam.

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Adopting P.A.C.E. will help New Balance support the implementation of two of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, FDRA said: promoting good health and well being and increasing gender equality. The program also benefits the participating business by increasing employee retention and productivity, the group added.

“We believe that the women in our global supply chain should have development opportunities both in their professional and personal lives,” Gorman said. “The P.A.C.E. program has a proven track record of increasing the self-esteem of female workers who complete the program, which in turn gives them the skills and confidence they need to advance in the workplace and better manage personal issues at home.”

Gap has previously partnered with companies like Condé Nast to expand the program, and brands like Abercrombie & Fitch have initiated similar programs to support female workers in their supply chains.