Women are a driving force at our company. They make up 70% of our employees and 80% of garment workers worldwide. The global garment industry is one of the largest employers of low-skill women workers, and relatively few female factory workers are given opportunities to advance in the workplace. Many lack the basic education, life skills, and technical training they need to move into supervisor or manager roles where they work.
That’s why we started Gap Inc. P.A.C.E.
By leveraging our company resources, partnerships with community organizations, and relationships with vendors, we have an opportunity to help women get the skills and education they need to move forward in the workplace and in life. P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement) has provided life skills, education and technical training to more than 25,000 female garment workers so far – and the number is growing every day. When women are able to advance at the workplace, they help advance their families and communities. That’s the power of P.A.C.E.
The Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program, launched in 2007, was designed and developed in partnership with Swasti-Health Resource Centre and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty that focuses on women, is a key implementing partner, and our vendor partners also play a critical role. Without their support, the program would not be sustainable.
“The commitment of vendors to dedicate their internal human resources makes the P.A.C.E. program sustainable and scalable,” said Dotti Hatcher, Executive Director, Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. Global Initiatives. “Factory management sees the immediate and direct benefits of the program, such as improved employee retention rates and greater worker efficiency.”
P.A.C.E. takes into consideration both the needs of the female garment workers and the business needs of the factories. The goal is to create a sustainable model where factory personnel are trained to implement the program on their own. The result is a best-in-class program that simultaneously benefits the woman, her community, and the factory.
Within an 8-10 month timeframe, P.A.C.E. training covers topics like communications, problem-solving, decision-making, financial literacy, and gender equality. Program participants have said that, coming out of the program, they have gained so much more than just professional skills – they have more confidence, stronger communication skills, and an understanding of the importance of goal setting and practical financial practices
Here’s a breakdown of the program:
The first phase of the program is all about gaining life and professional skills. The training (approximately 65-80 hours and up to eight modules of learning) covers topics like communication, problem-solving and decision-making, time and stress management, general and reproductive health, legal literacy, financial literacy and gender equality.
The second phase of the program, led by our partner garment factories, focuses on technical training. The content aligns with workers’ learning abilities and technical potential.
Disha, a worker in India, says: “The information given in P.A.C.E. is of tremendous use for us. It educates us on various subjects. It also helps us in solving our problems by informing us about our rights. If these kinds of programs become a regular feature, it will help us address so many of our problems. All workers should get the opportunity to learn like we did.”
The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) evaluates the P.A.C.E. program globally. In September 2013 they released a report summarizing findings from program evaluations they conducted from 2009 – 2013 at six separate factory sites where P.A.C.E. is implemented – two in India and one each in Cambodia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and China. Below are highlights from ICRW's research as well as a link to view the full report.
Click here to view the full report
“P.A.C.E. has improved women’s sense of self worth and their ability to contribute effectively both in their homes and at work,” says Priya Nanda, Director of the Social & Economic Development Group at ICRW. “The data from our evaluations shows consistent results: Women’s self-esteem, work efficacy and ability to be a positive influence on the work environment improves through the program.
This program’s evaluation is allowing us to provide the evidence that women are force multipliers – in other words, there are multiple levels of impact created by expanding opportunities for women, and the benefits accrue not only to the women themselves, but are passed on to others around them.”
Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. evaluations show strong benefits to the participants, the families of participants, and the workplace. Evaluation reports demonstrate that program participants feel they have greater confidence, built stronger communication skills, and learned the importance of goal setting and practical financial practices. Additionally in the evaluations, factory managers report improved efficiency, increased professional advancement and lower rates of absenteeism from P.A.C.E. graduates.
Through our partnership with CARE International and Swasti-Health Resource Centre, Gap Inc. expanded P.A.C.E. beyond the factory setting into communities in Cambodia and India in 2013. Gap Inc. plans to expand into communities in Bangladesh, Haiti, and Indonesia in 2014.
“The Gap Inc. P.A.C.E. program is a strong reflection of our company culture. Given the positive impact on female garment workers, we believe there is opportunity to benefit more women by expanding into community settings,” said Bobbi Silten, Senior Vice President of Global Responsibility, Gap Inc. and President, Gap Foundation.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Gap Inc. on this life-changing program,” said Helene D. Gayle, president and CEO of CARE. “Bringing P.A.C.E. beyond the factory setting into the local community helps fulfill CARE’s mission to provide innovative solutions and lasting change in the poorest communities in the world.”
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