The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Home / case studies / Case study: How GUESS invests in its people to attract and retain talented professionals

Case study: How GUESS invests in its people to attract and retain talented professionals

Established in 1981, GUESS began as a jeans company and has since successfully grown into a global lifestyle brand designing, marketing, distributing and licensing a lifestyle collection of contemporary apparel, denim, handbags, watches, footwear and other related consumer products in more than 100 countries. GUESS wants its associates to feel empowered to take ownership of their work, pursue new ideas, and develop successful careers within the GUESS community.  Tweet This!

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by GUESS 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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To attract and retain talented individuals GUESS has developed an attractive benefits programme, as well as several initiatives that support early career development and associate recognition. In order to invest in its people to attract and retain talented professionals GUESS took action to:

  • offer employee benefits
  • implement a wellness programme
  • attract talented students
  • implement a Corporate Recognition Programme

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report GUESS identified a range of material issues, such as human rights and labour relations, energy efficiency and GHGs, sourcing sustainable materials, diversity and inclusion, water stewardship. Among these, investing in its people to attract and retain talented professionals stands out as a key material issue for GUESS.

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 GUESS engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Investors ·      Investor surveys and reports

·      Direct communications

·      Industry

·      Company research



·      Direct communications

·      Surveys, audits and trainings




·      GUESS Foundation

·      Partnerships and sponsorships

·      Interviews

NGOs ·      Company research

·      Events

·      Direct communications

·      Interviews

Media & Industry ·      Industry associations

·      Industry initiatives, conferences and meetings

·      Interviews

·      Company research

Regulators/ Government


·      Regulatory reporting and compliance

·      Meeting on emerging regulations and government initiatives

·      Work with industry associations

Associates ·      Online surveys

·      Interviews

·      Volunteering and training

Customers ·      Customer surveys and feedback

·      Social media

·      Industry

·      Company research

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics GUESS engaged internal and external stakeholders through a series of interviews and online surveys.

What actions were taken by GUESS to invest in its people to attract and retain talented professionals?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report GUESS reports that it took the following actions for investing in its people to attract and retain talented professionals:

  • Offering employee benefits
  • GUESS’s benefits package is designed to build long-term associate loyalty and attract top talent. In the U.S., GUESS offers full-time and eligible part-time associates medical, dental and vision coverage, flexible spending accounts, retirement savings plans, and in some cases, bonus and associate stock purchasing plans. GUESS also offers life and accident insurance, disability coverage and associate assistance programmes. In Europe and Canada, benefits are country or province-specific and include benefits such as health care, life and disability insurance, and critical illness coverage.
  • Implementing a wellness programme
  • The Guess U.S. incentive-based wellness programme promotes a healthy, balanced lifestyle and supports associates’ personal wellness goals. Associates receive points for engaging in health-related activities and are rewarded based on the points they earn. Examples of such point-based activities include gym visits, health cooking demonstrations, nutrition seminars, meditation classes, and biometric screenings. Moreover, in addition to GUESS’s dedicated walking groups, which are a popular part of the wellness programme, GUESS has a fully equipped gym at its headquarters campus offering an extensive line-up of workout equipment and daily classes like cycling and yoga. Associates can also purchase healthy food options including vegetarian meals in the GUESS Café daily, while GUESS’s onsite nutritionist helps associates meet their dietary needs and lifestyle choices. GUESS’s wellness programmes are currently running in Los Angeles, Kentucky, and New York.
  • Attracting talented students
  • The Guess U.S. summer internship programme is a 10-week, full time programme based at GUESS’s Los Angeles Headquarters. The Programme offers a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to explore the world of fashion, gain real-world experience and develop skills for a career beyond college. In addition to time spent in the office, interns participate in educational and social activities including focus groups, discussion panels, field trips and workshops. GUESS’s internship programme has launched many successful careers, resulting in job offers for top performing interns.
  • Implementing a Corporate Recognition Programme
  • GUESS’s Corporate Recognition Programme encourages peer-to peer appreciation and awards excellent performance with company-wide recognition and gifts. Any team member can write a card to thank and recognise another corporate associate. The cards have a detachable section that recipients can tear off and place in a raffle box, to be entered in a monthly draw. Additionally, in Guess U.S. and Guess Canada, GUESS encourages store-level and peer-to-peer recognition through its Performer of the Month programme. GUESS’s focus on recognition of high performing associates allows it to create meaningful career development opportunities, and improve long-term retention.

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

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 401-2 Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees

2) Disclosure 403-6 Promotion of worker health


Disclosure 401-2 Benefits provided to full-time employees that are not provided to temporary or part-time employees 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: Earnings, wages and benefits

Disclosure 403-6 Promotion of worker health does not correspond to any SDG.


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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.

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1) This case study is based on published information by GUESS, 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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