WASHINGTON, March 9, 2011 – Gap Inc. received the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) Champions for Change Award for Innovation in recognition of the company’s P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement) program. This workplace program was developed by Gap Inc. in 2006 to provide life skills and enhanced technical skills education to female garment workers to help them advance in the workplace and in their personal lives. The program currently operates in India and Cambodia, with plans for expansion to other countries. Bobbi Silten, Chief Foundation Officer, Gap Inc., accepted the award last night during the ICRW ‘Passport to Progress’ event held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Sarah Degnan Kambou, ICRW President said, “Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. program is a pioneering business model that leverages its aspirations as well as its assets. We are delighted to recognize Gap Inc. for the way it is transforming women’s lives at work, at home and in the community.”
The global garment industry is one of the largest employers of women workers. Despite their large numbers in the workforce, relatively few female factory workers advance to positions in management. Gap Inc.’s research shows that P.A.C.E. graduates are more productive, have lower rates of absenteeism and are promoted faster than factory workers who do not participate in the program.
“We are honored to receive this award for P.A.C.E.,”said Bobbi Silten. “Investing in improving women’s lives is a natural fit for us. Approximately seventy percent of Gap Inc. employees and 80 percent of garment workers around the world are women. Our company culture, our knowledge of the apparel world and our partnerships with manufacturing vendors and local non-government organizations have allowed us to help make meaningful impact on women and the communities where they live and work,” she added.
One female garment worker who participated in the program in India said, “The P.A.C.E. training has changed me as a person. It has helped me decide the direction in which I want to go. More importantly, it has helped me set my priorities.”
Another program participant noted: “The P.A.C.E. training has given me the opportunity to express my aspirations with confidence. My outlook has changed and I no longer believe that my aspirations are unattainable.”
More than 3,500 female garment workers have participated in the program. At one facility, women who completed the program were promoted nearly five times the rate of other female factory workers in the same factory. P.A.C.E. has proven scalable and sustainable because of a clear business case that participation is not only good for the women, but it is also good for vendors.
The ICRW Award for Innovation celebrates and salutes organizations that are working to advance the health, well-being and economic progress of women and girls through their policies, programs and partnerships.