Assessing the gender impacts of the world’s 36 most influential apparel companies

Gender baseline report September 2020

WBA’s gender baseline assessment looks at the gender data disclosure of the world’s 36 most influential apparel companies. We assess how these companies are integrating a gender strategy across their entire value chain and addressing women’s needs. In a world designed by men, which companies are setting a new gender trend, and which are out of style?

When women rise, so does business performance, economic growth and development. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are critical to achieve the SDGs. The apparel sector is well-placed to drive progress, employing around 60-75 million people – two thirds of whom are women. This is the starting point for WBA’s gender baseline assessment.

What we have learned so far is that current corporate disclosure around gender efforts is woefully insufficient. As a result, gender inequalities all too often go unnoticed because of invisible gender data. This important insight will be taken into our full Gender Benchmark where we will measure and rank these 36 apparel companies on their gender impacts.

Three key findings

Apparel companies have a critical role to play in driving gender equality and women’s empowerment. Overall, companies need to be more explicit about how their actions impact women. The 36 apparel companies assessed are currently not disclosing nearly enough regarding their gender efforts. Where gender data exists, companies focus primarily on avoiding gender-related risks and disclosing what is legally required rather than proactively driving transformative change in the industry. Furthermore, they do not take a strategic approach to gender across their value chain, often missing key gender impacts in the workplace, supply chain, marketplace and community.

Key finding

Gender data is invisible

Basic information regarding the actions apparel companies are taking to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment is not being made publicly available. All 36 companies assessed disclose less than 40% of the information that stakeholders expect to see. This lack of transparency is hindering progress.

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Key finding

It’s time to drive transformative change

Companies focus primarily on avoiding gender-related impacts and disclosing what is legally required rather than proactively driving transformative change in the industry. Less than 11% of the publicly available information displays leading practice in relation to industry peers. Companies need to lead, not follow.

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Key finding

A strategic approach to gender is the way forward

Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment requires companies to take an approach that is integrated across their entire value chain and is holistic, in that it considers the many interconnected dimensions affecting gender equality. While 12 companies (33%) have committed to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, their gender efforts are not carried out in a strategic way. As such, there is no clear leader in the apparel sector.

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Find out more about the dislosure of the 36 apparel companies

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Findings by measurement area and indicator

The methodology includes 34 indicators, which are distributed across seven measurement areas and are connected to a company’s full value chain, i.e., at corporate level, in the workplace, in the supply chain, marketplace and community. They represent the most salient gender issues in the apparel industry.

The 36 most influential apparel companies

Locations

  • Title: Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Adidas
    Place: Germany
    Description:
  • Title: Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited
    Place: India
    Description:
  • Title: Amazon.com
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: American Eagle Outfitters
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: ANTA Sports Products
    Place: China
    Description:
  • Title: Ascena Retail Group
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Associated British Foods (Primark)
    Place: United Kingdom
    Description:
  • Title: Carter's
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Costco Wholesale Corporation
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Decathlon S.A.
    Place: France
    Description:
  • Title: Fast Retailing
    Place: Japan
    Description:
  • Title: Fung Group
    Place: Hong Kong
    Description:
  • Title: Gap Inc.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: HanesBrands Inc.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Heilan Group
    Place: China
    Description:
  • Title: Hennes & Mauritz
    Place: Sweden
    Description:
  • Title: Inditex
    Place: Spain
    Description:
  • Title: Kering
    Place: France
    Description:
  • Title: L Brands
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Levi Strauss & Co.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Lojas Renner
    Place: Brazil
    Description:
  • Title: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton
    Place: France
    Description:
  • Title: Marks and Spencer Group
    Place: United Kingdom
    Description:
  • Title: Nike
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: PVH
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Ralph Lauren Corporation
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Souyute Group
    Place: China
    Description:
  • Title: Tailored Brands, Inc.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Target
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: The Foschini Group
    Place: South Africa
    Description:
  • Title: Under Armour Inc.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Urban Outfitters, Inc.
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: VF Corporation
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Walmart
    Place: United States of America
    Description:
  • Title: Zhejiang Semir Garment
    Place: China
    Description: