Gap wants to be up front about where it’s making everything.
On its Global Sustainability site, the retailer details how its products are made and just released a factory list of all the places where those products are made. The move was part of Gap’s effort to “thoroughly” reassess how it works with factories and to keep those relationships transparent to the public.
“In the past few years, we have conducted a thorough reassessment of our approach to working with suppliers, laying the groundwork for further progress and deeper partnership,” Gap said on the site. “We have consolidated our supplier base to focus our resources on suppliers that have the greatest alignment with our goals.”
Those suppliers—and there are 46 pages worth of them—are in 29 countries around the world, including China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Lesotho, Pakistan, Myanmar and Mauritius.
Gap said its suppliers will better benefit from understanding how it measures their sustainability performance, and as such, the retailer plans to provide suppliers with greater access to data and analysis from its Assessment and Remediation program to enable them to make appropriate investments in their operations.
The retailer is working to assess factory conditions and aid with any remediation to bring them up to international standards for labor practices and working conditions. It also wants to strengthen its factories capabilities by providing training and guidance to help them improve management practices and internalize standards. The third part of Gap’s new approach is to build on its connections, treating workers fairly and giving them a safe place to work, which in turn should yield better products, productivity and performance.
In moving forward, Gap also wants to pilot Better Work programs in new countries.
After helping form Better Factories Cambodia in 2001, which expanded into the Better Work program led by the International Labour Organization, Gap wants to bring the workers rights protection initiative in other nations that could benefit, Bangladesh one among them.
The company has also been rating its factories with a color-coded system based on performance as an input into its sourcing decisions, “similarly to how we rate factories based on the quality and cost of their product,” Gap explained.
A dark green rating means the factory is high performing, with no or extremely few violations—and violations can include excessive hours or first-aid kits not being fully stocked. A red rating means there are critical issues at the facility.
Since 2011, the percentage of Gap’s dark green-rated facilities in Greater China—where it makes the bulk of its product—have fallen from 14.1% high performers to just 8.1% while red-rated factories increased from 19.3% to 21.4%.
By comparison, dark green rated factories in South Asia when from 8.6% of Gap’s factory base in the region to only 6.6% and red-rated factories remained fairly flat looking at 2011 compared to 2014. In Bangladesh specifically, Gap said red factories increased over the past few years due to the evolution of its methodology.
“As we refine what we are looking for, we expect to find more issues. In addition, as the country’s garment industry continues to evolve, new issues surface even as others are addressed,” according to Gap.
The now publically available factory list includes facilities that make for all of Gap Inc’s brands, including its namesake, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Athleta and Intermix. Each factory’s name and address is included in the list.