Gender Benchmark 2021

2021 Gender Benchmark

Ranking 35 of the most influential apparel companies on gender equality

The 2021 Gender Benchmark assesses and ranks 35 key apparel companies on their contribution to Sustainable Development Goal 5: gender equality and women’s empowerment. The benchmark methodology was developed by the World Benchmarking Alliance in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, and looks at companies’ entire value chains.

Our benchmark findings show that while apparel companies may be fast in producing fashion garments, they are slow when it comes to addressing gender inequalities. To achieve a more sustainable future that works for everyone, the private sector must play its part and ensure that its 60–75 million employees – two-thirds of whom are women – are not left behind.

Five key findings

Our assessment shows that the apparel industry is not on track to meaningfully contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 5. Although some companies demonstrate leading practices, most are yet to take transformative action to drive gender equality and women’s empowerment. To adequately address the needs of 50% of the population, companies need to be more explicit about how women are impacted by their actions and what they are doing to address those impacts.

Key finding

Companies lack ambition to drive transformative change

Transformative change from and by the private sector is required to achieve the SDGs. However, companies are only at the beginning of their journey to address gender inequalities and empower women, and to contribute to SDG 5.

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Key finding

Companies are not ensuring women are prepared for another pandemic

Companies do not have the policies and practices in place to enable women employees and supply chain workers to thrive in normal times and endure the turbulent ones, such as childcare support and flexible work. Companies need to adapt their practices so that they are better placed to support women in the face of unexpected shocks.

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Key finding

Companies must do more to support women workers in their supply chain

Most companies have mechanisms in place to identify and assess actual or potential adverse gender-related impacts in their supply chain. However incidents that companies should be preventing, mitigating and/or remediating are being missed, detrimentally affecting women workers.

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Key finding

Companies are ignoring their employees’ needs

Companies’ efforts to drive gender equality and women's empowerment are more focused on their external stakeholders rather than their own employees. Gender efforts in the community, such as programmes that benefit women and girls, are more than double the gender efforts in the workplace.

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Key finding

Gender data is still invisible

Companies are not being transparent enough about their gender impacts. Basic information about the actions that apparel companies are taking to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment is not being collected, and if it is, not being disclosed. No company discloses more than 55% of the information that stakeholders expect to see.

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See how the companies performed

View ranking

Measurement area findings

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

Further reading

  • 2021 Gender Benchmark Insights Report

    This report builds on the key findings above, sharing further insights and more leading practices. It also features calls to action for specific stakeholder groups.

    See report
  • Data

    All the benchmark results and data are publicly available and downloadable.

    See data

The 35 ranked companies

Locations

  • Title: Walmart
    Place: Bentonville, AR, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Zhejiang Semir Garment
    Place: Wenzhou, China
    Description:
  • Title: Abercrombie & Fitch
    Place: New Albany, OH, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Adidas
    Place: Herzogenaurach, Germany
    Description:
  • Title: Aditya Birla Group
    Place: Mumbai, India
    Description:
  • Title: Amazon
    Place: Seattle, WA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: American Eagle Outfitters
    Place: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: ANTA International Group Holdings
    Place: Xiamen, China
    Description:
  • Title: Associated British Foods (Primark)
    Place: London, United Kingdom
    Description:
  • Title: Carter's
    Place: Atlanta, GA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Costco
    Place: Issaquah, WA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Decathlon
    Place: Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France
    Description:
  • Title: Fast Retailing
    Place: Yamaguchi, Japan
    Description:
  • Title: Fung Group
    Place: Hong Kong, China
    Description:
  • Title: Gap Inc.
    Place: San Francisco, CA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Hennes & Mauritz (H&M)
    Place: Stockholm, Sweden
    Description:
  • Title: Hanesbrands
    Place: Winston-Salem, NC, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Heilan Group
    Place: Jiangyin, China
    Description:
  • Title: Industria de Diseño Textil (Inditex)
    Place: Arteixo, Spain
    Description:
  • Title: Kering
    Place: Paris, France
    Description:
  • Title: L Brands
    Place: Columbus, OH, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Levi Strauss & Co.
    Place: San Francisco, CA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Lojas Renner
    Place: Porto Alegre, Brazil
    Description:
  • Title: LVMH Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton
    Place: Paris, France
    Description:
  • Title: Marks & Spencer
    Place: London, United Kingdom
    Description:
  • Title: Nike
    Place: Beaverton, OR, USA
    Description:
  • Title: PVH
    Place: New York, NY, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Ralph Lauren Corporation
    Place: New York, NY, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Souyute Group
    Place: Dongguan, China
    Description:
  • Title: Tailored Brands
    Place: Houston, TX, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Target Corporation
    Place: Minneapolis, MN, USA
    Description:
  • Title: The Foschini Group (TFG)
    Place: Cape Town, South Africa
    Description:
  • Title: Under Armour
    Place: Baltimore, MD, USA
    Description:
  • Title: Urban Outfitters
    Place: Philadelphia, PA, USA
    Description:
  • Title: VF Corporation
    Place: Denver, CO, USA
    Description:

Previous findings

  • Gender Benchmark Baseline Assessment 2020

    This assessment looks the gender data disclosures of the 36 most influential apparel companies globally.

    See 2020 findings