The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Home / case studies / Case study: How Gildan empowers women at work

Case study: How Gildan empowers women at work

As a leading manufacturer and marketer of everyday basic apparel, Gildan recognises the importance of its people to its business success and embraces its responsibility to treat its 50,000 direct employees with respect and dignity, investing in their personal and professional development and promoting a true spirit of inclusiveness that celebrates diversity.

This case study is based on the 2017 Sustainability Report by Gildan published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Gildan is pleased that over 42% of the company’s management positions are held by females, but seeks to do more to empower women at work  Tweet This! by strengthening training and development programmes, providing more advancement opportunities for its female employees. In order to empower women at work Gildan took action to:
  • implement a Women’s Empowerment Programme
  • host developmental activities
  • launch a women’s leadership series
  • partner to expand opportunities for women

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Gildan identified a range of material issues, such as human and labour rights, manufacturing & distribution health and safety, operational water & wastewater management, business ethics and compliance, product quality and safety. Among these, empowering women at work stands out as a key material issue for Gildan.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Gildan engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement


·      Annual General Meeting

·      Earnings Release Conference Calls

·      Conferences and non-deal road- shows

Investors (Institutional)


·      Investor Relations Day

·      Materiality Assessment

·      Earnings Release Conference Calls

·      Investor perception study

·      Comprehensive facility tour

·      On-request meetings with Board members

Board of Directors ·      Board meetings





·      Global employee engagement survey

·      Pulse surveys

·      Materiality Assessment

·      Worker-Management Committee Meetings

·      Employee Meetings – Headquarters

·      Gildan TV Internal Communications

·      Round tables



·      Materiality Assessment

·      Benchmarking

·      Audits





·      Memberships

·      Audit requests

·      Participation in Roundtables

·      Committee Meetings

·      Conferences

·      Webinars

·      Workshops

·      Materiality Assessment

Local Communities ·      Memberships

·      Audit requests

·      Participation in Roundtables

·      Committee Meetings

·      Conferences

·      Webinars

·      Workshops

·      Materiality Assessment

·      Town Hall Meetings

Students / Academia / Schools


·      Mentoring

·      Internship Programme

·      Participation in research projects

Government ·      Meetings

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Gildan carried out internal stakeholder interviews and, also, conducted focus groups to engage more than 25 external stakeholders – including civil society organisations, printwear and retail customers, investors
and trade associations – in an open discussion on the importance of each material topic.

What actions were taken by Gildan to empower women at work?

In its 2017 Sustainability Report Gildan reports that it took the following actions for empowering women at work:

  • Implementing a Women’s Empowerment Programme
  • Gildan’s Women’s Empowerment Programme, first implemented in collaboration with the Walmart Foundation and World Vision Honduras, supports women by helping them develop the skills they need to become more active decision-makers and leaders in their jobs and their families. The Women’s Empowerment Programme helps employees recognise their capabilities and provides them with the tools needed to balance demands from both work and home. The programme includes over 56 hours of training, and offers the opportunity to learn about subjects such as management, finance, communications and health. At the end of the programme, women graduates who demonstrate strong leadership potential are selected to train the next round of candidates. The cycle then repeats itself, to support the programme in each facility. Men can also receive basic training, learning to recognise some of the challenges women face and how to support them. Up to now, more than 1580 Gildan employees in Honduras, both men and women, have participated in this training.
  • Hosting developmental activities
  • In March 2017, Gildan hosted a series of developmental activities across the company. More specifically, the Company’s headquarters in Montreal hosted a panel discussion led by the President of the Association of Quebec Women in Finance, presenting three employees at different stages of their careers. These women shared their journey, their insight on proactive career management and their personal and professional development strategies.
  • Launching a women’s leadership series
  • Beginning in the fall of 2017, Gildan launched a women’s leadership series, featuring inspirational and empowering stories shared by successful women. These sessions aimed to foster the development of Gildan’s employees, and emphasise women’s unique and important place in society. The workshops took place in two phases: the first included a larger session with 300- 400 women who attended the speaker presentation and the second session was a smaller group of high-potential employees who went through additional one-on-one training. This series was intended to provide guidance on developing leadership skills, in addition to key elements such as taking ownership over one’s career.
  • Partnering to expand opportunities for women
  • Gildan started a partnership with Catalyst, a leading global non-profit organisation whose mission is to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion. Catalyst represents a community of leaders committed to increasing opportunities for women and business. Employees have access to a wide-ranging spectrum of resources, including educational webinars, virtual events, research and social networking. They can make the most of all the resources Catalyst provides to learn about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs

2) Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees


Disclosure 404-2 Programs for upgrading employee skills and transition assistance programs corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Employee training and education

Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Gildan, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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