Gildan: Supporting Women with Life Skills

Feb 10, 2017 8:15 AM ET

Gildan’s founders began manufacturing apparel more than 30 years ago in Canada, with a fundamental belief that owning its factories was the only way to ensure that products were better quality and always manufactured in the most responsible way. They also believed that true innovation and long term success would come from believing in its people, for it would be in their excellence and commitment that great things could be found.

Believing and investing in its people lies at the heart of Gildan’s programs to support its employees in different aspects of their professional, family and personal lives. These programs are driven by the Company’s belief in the potential to improve the quality of life for employees, at work and at home.

Gildan first implemented the Women’s Empowerment Program two years ago in collaboration with the Walmart Foundation and World Vision® Honduras. The program supports women by helping them develop the skills they need to become more active decision-makers and leaders in their jobs and their families.

Employees at Gildan’s Villanueva sewing facility undertook the advanced workshop in 2016 and the facility was awarded a special recognition from World Vision® for its successful completion of the program. The Company’s San Miguel and San Antonio sewing facilities have also implemented the program, and are working towards graduating their first participants.

The Women’s Empowerment Program is unique in that it helps employees recognize their capabilities and equips them with the tools to balance their demands both at work and at home. More than 1,000 Gildan employees in Honduras, both men and women, have participated in this training to date.

A graduate of the program, Tania Viera, Sewing Operator, believes that the program helped her learn the value of communications in all of her relationships. “After attending this program, I have improved my relationships with my coworkers as well as my family,” said Tania. “I learned a great lesson from each step of this process, learning to communicate better, be more assertive and more sociable. I also learned to value myself as a person, as a woman and as a mother.”  

The program offers over 70 hours of training as well as the opportunity to learn about subjects such as management, finance, communications and health. At the end of the program, a group of women graduates who demonstrate strong leadership potential are selected to be trainers for the next round of candidates. The cycle then repeats itself to sustain the program in each facility.

A complimentary feature of the program is that men also play a role in the basic training by learning to recognize some of the challenges women face and ways to help support them.

One participant Elmer Antonio Rodriguez, Production Supervisor, believes that the program has important benefits for everyone. “Ever since our first training, my colleagues and I started meeting in groups during our breaks to discuss improvements in our respective teams,” said Elmer Antonio. “We talk about the things we like and dislike about the way the team works. We discuss all the alternatives possible for improving production, quality and maintenance. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to receive this training.”

Gildan is committed to implementing the Women’s Empowerment Program within its facilities in Latin American and in doing so, supports the leadership development of its employees that can be applied in all aspects of their lives.

For more information on Gildan’s corporate social responsibility activities visit