Gap Inc.’s Pioneering This Way Ahead Program: Giving youth a way in + a way up
Gap Inc. has long been a pioneering leader in the opportunity youth employment space, which builds on the company’s commitment to supporting community development while also addressing a challenging retail environment of high turnover.
Launched over a decade ago, Gap Inc.’s This Way Ahead program was initially designed to give young people facing barriers to employment an opportunity to land a first job. Specifically targeting 16-24 year olds from low-income communities, the program provides participants with a career coach and peer “buddy” to help them navigate the new and sometimes difficult world of work.
Gap Inc. has found that this innovative program has been a powerful talent pipeline. The employees who join the company through This Way Ahead have been shown to stay at the company twice as long as their peers, have higher engagement scores, and secure stable employment at a rate that is 31% higher than that of their peers. This success has led Gap Inc. to announce expansion plans of the program to 53 cities globally, with a commitment to hiring 5% of their entry level workers from This Way Ahead by 2025.
- The Innovation Lab has been like an accelerator to this process, forcing us to intentionally invest in partnerships and connecting us with valuable support resources. There is no way that we would be where we are today with regards to supporting impact hires without the Lab journey.
SVP of People
- Being a part of FSG’s Innovation Lab has been incredibly energizing for me personally and for my team. Our work with the Lab has given my team greater purpose and clarified how we can make our business goals around diversity and inclusion a reality.
Manager, HR - Talent Management Staffing
- For our pilot, it was important to start small. This allowed us to learn how to engage with and support our interns and our employees so the project would be successful. We developed the program in record speed and we did it with very strong partnerships, both internally and externally. Working with Talent Rewire and Grads of Life exposed us to a lot of great resources to help us with this process.
Talent Acquisition Leader
- Open Hiring may feel risky to some employers. But in my mind, the real risk is in not doing Open Hiring. Employers always need to be exploring new paths for acquiring talent if they expect to grow their business.
CEO and President
- What would happen in your company if you went back and had the courageous conversations? If you asked the difficult questions, if you wanted to get close enough to your workforce to understand their complexities? It's a vulnerable position to place yourself, to understand the complexities of your workforce, but that's when the best interventions come to light.
- The success of this program really was contingent upon a mutually beneficial partnership between both company and community. The relationship between Caterpillar and Peoria Public Schools was beneficial to both of us.
HR and People Consultant