Social responsibility means taking care of the interests of the stakeholders of a company1. The stakeholders of a company are the employees, the customers, the government, the suppliers, shareholders and the public in general.
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With the increasing competition, managers of companies are doing their best to ensure that they stay ahead of competition. Social responsibility to all stakeholders has become a great strategy to enhance competitiveness.
Gap Inc. has all the classes of stakeholders. The company has 134,000 employees who work in its various departments worldwide2. It has an approximate customer base of 14 million customers who are served from various stores owned by the company.
The company appreciates the fact that in order to achieve success, it must incorporate the help of all the stakeholders. The company also understands that the problems they face in the global business arena are too complex and they can be overcome through combined efforts.
The major stakeholders to the company are government officials, manufacturing companies, factory managers, human rights groups, environmental groups, trade unions and investors.
The stakeholders play an important role in the social responsibility program of the company. Their input in terms of expertise has seen the company go far.
Collaboration with the stakeholders has enabled the company to address issue of child labour in Uzbekistan and improve on the supply chain of the company. The company has collaborated with the International Labour Rights Fund (ILRF) to improve on labour relations and standards in global export business3.
Gap Inc. has also collaborated with workers united to help improve on the garment production in Canada and the United States. This has ensured that the workers in the North America have an ample economic environment. Another stakeholder that collaborates with Gap Inc. is Maquilla Solidarity Network (MSN) to improve on the rights of employees4. This collaboration has seen the increasing respect freedom of association of workers among other benefits. The company also offers other benefits to the employees such sick pay, transport and other employee benefits.
These are just some examples of responsibility performance of the Gap Inc. Gap Inc. also operates within the legal requirements hence it is responsible to the government. The company complies with the provisions on employment, minimum and maximum wages of employees, employee safety among other provisions.
Social Performance with Regard to Employees
The company views its employees as important stakeholders in the organization. There are many positive aspects of employee social responsibility by the company. One positive aspect is encouragement of employees to pursue their goals in the organization. The company encourages the employees to “wear their passion”.
Another positive aspect is on the communication to the employees. The management has always encouraged the communication to the employees on the progress of the company and also on their roles and responsibilities.
By encouraging the employees and motivating them to take pride in their jobs has created a positive impact to the society. Employees interact with the customers of the company and if the employees are well motivated, the customers will get better services from them. Employees play a central role in creating a positive impact in the society5.
Gap Inc. has entered into collaborations with various human rights groups and trade unions. This shows that the company’s social performance with respect to employees is great.
The company has reduced child labour in the company’s activities through the collaboration with groups such as the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), As You Sow, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and Environmental Justice Forum among others.
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By reducing or attempting to eliminate child labour, the company is impacting positively on the society. To start with, the children are rehabilitated and encouraged to attend schools.
This gives the children a chance for better lives in the future hence a better society. By employing people who have attained the legal age, the company has set a good precedence to other companies hence the society will reap from this later.
Gap Inc. has shown a lot of social responsibility to the employees by following the provisions of the human rights groups and employment law. The company has entered into partnerships with International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), Workers United, Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), Ethical Training Initiative (ETI), Corporate Involvement Program (CIP), and Maquilla Solidarity Network (MSN) among others.
This has ensured that the company respects human an employment rights of employees. As a consequence, the company offer attractive salaries to the employees and it strive to reduce occupational hazards. The company also provides insurance to any eventualities which may happen to employees in the course of their duties6.
Through providing better services and offering good salaries, the company has contributed positively to the social lives of the people. The company also provides transport facilities to the workers working in various farms such as in Uzbekistan.
The lower level employees are also provided with sick pay and sick care where they are paid even when they are on sick leave. With these benefits and incentives, the employees can afford to live comfortably and take care of their families. By reducing the occupational hazards and providing insurance to the employees, the company ensures that the society is healthy. This is a big positive impact on the society.
Despite the efforts mentioned above, there are negative aspects in responsibility to the employees. One negative aspect is failure to eliminate employment of underage children in the cotton farms in Uzbekistan.
The company has only managed to reduce the employment to these underage children but not to eliminate the practice fully. Employment of underage children has impacted negatively on the society. The children do not get a chance to acquire better education and their future is at stake. This is dangerous for the future of the society in general7.
Another negative aspect is the fact that the company has partially ignored training and employment development. Very little efforts are directed to this important aspect and this has a negative impact in the society. Employees are trained only on ethical issues but not on work other technical workers.
The employees do not stay up to date with the current trends and therefore there is possibility that their services to the company and to the society in general will become obsolete. According to a research conducted by the company on its responsibility to thee employees, 67% of the employees expressed their dissatisfaction with the training programs that the company has8.
Apart from the good remuneration, the company has ignored other aspects of employee responsibility such as sick pay, provision of food within the work place, organizing of social events and other related benefits.
This has a negative effect to the society since it leads to less socialization and a possibility of strained families. These are some aspects that have contributed to poverty and social deprivation of the employees.
From the above discussion, it is evident that the company has done a lot to enhance employee social responsibility. The company has been striving to create an ample working environment, to remunerate the employees well, provide incentives to the employees and follow general international guidelines in its dealing with employees. This has created a positive impact in the society.
However, the company needs to improve on some issues which affect negatively the company’s social responsibility to the employees. The company should eliminate employment of minors since this has a negative effect on the society. Additionally, the company should start training facilities for the employees and facilitate growth.
This will enable the employees to keep in touch with the recent developments and be able to think rationally. Another issue that the company needs to improve is on provision of social benefits such as vacations, outings, employee team building activities and other activities which enhance the social well being of people9.
The opinion of the writer is that the Gap Inc. has achieved a milestone in employee responsibility. When asked about their views about Gap Inc., its 77% of the employees responded that they considered the company to be a great place to work in10.
Gap Inc.’s performance with respect to employee responsibility is better compared to that of other companies. This is because of the importance that Gap Inc. attaché to its employees and other stakeholders in general. The company understands that employees are important assets to an organization and they can be used to enhance competitive advantage11.
Andersen, Erika. Growing great employees: turning ordinary people into extraordinary performers. London: Erika Andersen, 2006.
Bourne, Lydia. Stakeholder relationship management: A maturity model for organizational implementation. Burlington: Gower Publishing Ltd, 2009.
Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc.,2011. Web.
Horrigan, Bryan. Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century: debates, models and practices across government, law and business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009.
Pohl, Manfred and Tolhurst, Nick. Responsible business: How to manage a CSR strategy successfully. London: John Wiley and Sons, 2009.
1 Bryan, Horrigan. Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century: debates, models and practices across government, law and business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009.
2 Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc., 2011.
3 Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc., 2011.
4 Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc., 2011.
5 Erika, Andersen. Growing great employees: turning ordinary people into extraordinary performers. London: Erika Andersen, 2006.
6 Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc., 2011.
7 Lydia, Bourne. Stakeholder relationship management: A maturity model for organizational implementation. Burlington: Gower Publishing Ltd, 2009.
8 Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc., 2011.
9 Manfred, Pohl and Nick, Tolhurst. Responsible business: How to manage a CSR strategy successfully. London: John Wiley and Sons, 2009.
10 Gap Inc. Social responsibility. Gap Inc., 2011.
11 Bryan, Horrigan. Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century: debates, models and practices across government, law and business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009.