Fusing Purpose & Sustainability Drive Strategy: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Talks ESG ForbesFusing Purpose & Sustainability Drive Strategy: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Talks ESG ForbesFusing Purpose & Sustainability Drive Strategy: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Talks ESG Forbes
Impact Investing Forum 2022
London. April 28-29, 2022.
Today’s consumer expects more from brands than ever. Trust in large institutions such as government and organized religion is at an all-time low. Consumers and employees of brands are looking for brands that address social, economic, and environmental justice issues. Brands have the opportunity to make a difference and drive social change.
Image courtesy of Abercrombie
Fran Horowitz, CEO at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. talked to me about how brands combine purpose and sustainability. This aligns with the company’s purpose to be there for customers “on their journey of being and becoming who and what they are.”
A&F Co. is focused on creating a world where everyone belongs. We have worked hard to make our company more inclusive in all we do. We have been on a journey over the past few years to embed sustainability, diversity, and inclusion throughout our company while expanding our ESG efforts in order to have a positive effect on the communities we touch around world. This work is not over. We are committed to continuing the driving change that we believe they want.
We have engaged strategic partnerships at both the corporate and brand levels to help us reach broader sustainability goals. This will help us strengthen communities around world while reducing our environmental footprint. This includes signing the renewable energy agreement for our Global Home Office in New Albany, Ohio, and partnering with thredUP, a fashion retail marketplace.
We have been focusing on our ESG initiatives and team internally for the past year and half. This includes new hires in ESG and inclusion & diversity, as well as reestablishing associate trainings on unconscious bias and creating Associate Resources Groups for different communities. Our teams work together to coordinate the important community giving, sustainability, inclusion, diversity, and community giving efforts.
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We are open to all forms of diversity. Over the past decade, we have steadily improved our representation of BIPOC associates in our home office as well as in our stores. We are proud of the progress we have made in all areas of our business including advocacy, allyship and education.
We encourage a culture and spirit of belonging at the brand level. Our brands celebrate the individuality, authenticity, and diversity of our customers, associates, and global communities. We also strive to include inclusivity in all our designs, from our sizing to our fabric selection to gender inclusion to fittings that consider multiple body shapes to our clothing.
We are committed to taking stock and assessing how we impact the world. We will continue to support the causes we care deeply about, such as supporting marginalized groups such as those who identify as BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ as well as mental and physical health and wellness.
We know that Gen Z and millennials want to spend their time with organizations that share their values. We are committed to equity and well-being, and we support causes that are important not only to these generations but also to the company as a whole. This includes social and racial injustice, mental health, sustainability and many other issues. This support is reflected in our non-profit partnerships across brands, our brand purposes and our overall publicly stated company goals.
Our brand is built on listening to our customers. This includes learning from them how they can authentically speak up for and serve their diverse communities. We have launched “The Abercrombie Equity Project”, Abercrombie’s racial and socio-justice initiative. This series created the A&F Conversations and Hollister Volume ON Insta TV series. It aims to encourage important conversations about race and gender, as well as raise those voices and stories. We also foster long-term partnerships and partnerships with organizations such as The Trevor Project, The Steve Fund and GLSEN to increase their services and the positive effect we want to have on our communities.
We’ve recently seen how supply chain challenges today are affecting the entire business community. We know that ensuring sustainability and resilience in our supply chains is crucial. We are proud to say that we have made great progress and will continue to strive to improve. We are leveraging real-time insights and data to help us navigate ongoing risks and issues in a flexible way today. We are also working together internally to improve our response time to disruptions and delays, which is crucial heading into the holiday season.
We continuously evaluate our operational impact to determine if we can find new ways to improve the outcomes for international communities who produce and/or manufacture our products. We participate in PALS, which aims to end human trafficking and forced labour, and the P.A.C.E program, which supports women working in the apparel industry.
It’s more than a slogan. Doing good by doing good has proven to be more than a simple phrase. The key to our business’ success is finding authentic ways of doing that. We know Gen Z and millennials want brands that not only talk the talk but also walk the walk when it is about supporting causes they care about.
This has led us to be more inclusive and diverse. We want our brands to reflect the values of our company and be relevant to our customers. This includes BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ rights. It’s about using your business’s platform to make a positive impact and finding partners who will help you along the way.