Gucci is an Italian luxury brand of fashion and leather goods. Gucci was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence, Tuscany, in 1921. For a period of time, the company's headquarters was in Milan but in 1994 it was transferred back to Florence where the company started its creative path. On 1999 Acquisition of a 42% stake in Gucci Group was done by what was at that time Pinault-Printemps-Redoute. In 2001 The Group raises its stake in Gucci Group to 53.2%, on 2004 The Group raises again its stake in Gucci Group to 99.4%. Since 2013 Gucci is part of the Kering Group- one of the biggest global Luxury groups these days. In the group's brands, you can find Alexander McQueen, Bottega Venta, Balenciaga and many more sophisticated and aesthetically appealing luxury brands.
On the International Day of the Girl at the 2017 Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion, Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzarri outlined Gucci’s ten-year Culture of Purpose sustainability plan. Gucci joined the Fur Free Alliance eliminating animal fur from all collections beginning with Spring Summer 2018; and that Gucci is making a 1 million euro donation as a founding partner of UNICEF’s Girls’ Empowerment Initiative. Besides these actions, Bizzarri detailed the three key pillars of Gucci’s 10 years sustainability plan - the environment, people and innovation.
Gucci is committed to: reducing the environmental impact of its business operations with a special focus on the use of energy and water, waste production, hazardous chemicals and the sustainability of raw materials; identifying and assessing both direct and indirect social and economic environmental impact along the entire supply chain and promoting within its own spheres of influence actions for the improvement and development of support for people and their environment.
As part of the Kering Group, Gucci is encouraged and challenged by the group to deal with sustainable issues, since Kering has been tracking and analysing its brands’ environmental impact for years. All of this to help their masions to implement sustainable strategies based on their own data about their supply chain environmental impacts. Kering monitors its brands through an annual environmental profit & loss report, which quantifies the companies’ climate impact in financial terms. Last year, the value of Gucci’s climate impact rose to €289 million, a near 80 percent increase since 2015. On the other hand, the brand’s impact relative to growth has been coming down steadily and declined 8 percent yearly.
The company is committed to reducing its environmental impacts and is setting ambitious targets to create a new standard in luxury retail, guaranteeing the traceability of 95% of their raw materials. Its “scrap-less” programme in association with its tanneries, which reduces the quantity of leather that is treated during the manufacturing process. In September 2019 the company announced that they will pay every year to offset the emissions it can’t eliminate from its supply chain to become carbon neutral. The company' s ten-year plan to slash its emissions in half by 2025, but paying to mitigate the emissions it can’t eliminate across its supply chain at the moment as a sign for seriousness of the current climate challenge the planet is facing. The best option is always to reduce emissions completely said Gucci's CEO Marco Bizzarri. Until then Gucci would offset it's emissions yearly until they will able to slash their emissions from their supply chain to zero.
All of the company’s operations, stores, offices and warehouses will run on renewable energy. The ongoing shift away from fossil fuels reduced the company’s emissions by nearly 46,000 tons of carbon dioxide last year — a tangible improvement. They are working with its suppliers and manufacturers to reduce their impact too, investing in technologies that will improve operations and working to diminish the amount of waste generated. At the same time, the company is re-evaluating the materials it uses to focus on sourcing the most ethically and sustainably produced fabrics and fibres available.
In 2018 Gucci furthered its commitment to sustainability with Gucci Equilibrium. According to the company, this is a new strategy and communication tool to connect people, planet and purpose. Equilibrium means that the company is committed to bringing the very best quality to their customers while maintaining positive environmental and social impact. They constantly update on their progress in ensuring that every decision they make is the right one on behalf of people and planet. The company keeps on searching out new sustainable materials, find the least invasive processes, dream up innovative solutions and, importantly, look after the people who help them achieve what is part of the Gucci house.
As part of the 10 years sustainability plan- the company is focused on gender equality as 59% of senior managers are women, and push further diversity and inclusion. Gucci Equilibrium will take the “people” focus one step further through social enterprises, such as “I was a Sari”, which sees Gucci craftsmen teach women from marginalised communities in Mumbai the skills to upcycle saris.
Since it’s becoming clear that innovation has a big part with tackling sustainable challenges Gucci is developing new solutions by applying technical innovation to improve efficiency in its production and logistics.
On top of the company’s sustainability strategy the CEO and president said that the company is committed to a culture of purpose, taking responsibility and encouraging respect, inclusivity and empowerment. Through these strategies creating the necessary conditions for a progressive approach to sustainability.
Gucci published a corporate sustainability and responsibility policy and guiding principles that should support all its value chain. In line with its mission, the code of conduct and code of ethics of the Kering Group as well as the modern slavery act, Gucci is committed to implementing a culture of sustainability and raising awareness within the Gucci's stakeholders from shareholders to sub-contractors, local communities, NGOs, trade associations and trade unions, while promoting a policy that values the following principles:
Business ethics: committed to conducting all business activities in accordance with the principles of honesty, fairness, transparency and integrity and to fully complying with all laws, regulations, guidelines and applicable standards.
Respect for human rights: respecting the human rights recognised in international conventions and declarations within the scope of its activities throughout their entire value chain.
Employment standards: promoting employment standards that respect workers’ rights, trade union agreements and the principles underlying the programme of safeguards for workers in the Gucci system. While guaranteeing the exercise of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; Gucci rejects all forms of child labour, forced labour and discrimination, ensuring that all workers have the same opportunities in terms of employment and career development, and receive equal treatment based on merit.
The protection and promotion of health and safety: actively committed to promoting and strictly complying with health and safety standards for the workers and the communities with which it operates, in order to prevent accidents and occupational diseases, and, simultaneously, to help improve people’s physical and mental health.
People’s welfare: promoting initiatives designed to balance the relationship between the need for private and professional life.
The development of professional skills: actively committed to recognising and promoting the development of each worker’s professional skills and competencies, improving behavioural factors and ensuring that the potential and creativity of individuals are fully realised from a professional point of view.
The promotion of diversity: recognising the value of diversity while at the same time fully respecting the cultures, traditions, religions, ethnic groups and communities with which it interacts, and to preserving their biological, gender, environmental, social, cultural and economic identities.
Contribution to socio-economic development: promoting, protecting and improving the quality of life and the socio-economic development of local, national and international communities by: supporting the creation of opportunities for the growth and development of craftsmanship skills, and promoting the development of local industries, knowledge transfer and the development of local professionals; implementing philanthropic, non-profit and cooperation initiatives, in line with their values and priorities.
Protection of the environment: the commitment to the reduction of environmental impact and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity are not only fundamental to the preservation of the planet and its inhabitants, present and future, but are also needed to ensure competitiveness, risk reduction and the further development of the business.
Relations with stakeholders: developing and pursuing a dialogue with its stakeholders based on fairness and transparency; joining initiatives or signing agreements for collaboration, cooperation and partnership with public and private organisations on the issue of sustainable development at local, national and international level.
Supplier involvement: continuing the adoption and monitoring of policies focused on the economic sustainability of the supply chain, and encouraging the sharing of processes, agreed on the basis of transparent methods that balance business requirements with compliance with rules, and business sustainability. Gucci also requires all suppliers and sub-contractors to comply with the company’s Sustainability Principles and to agree to unannounced visits and inspections.
Customer care: continuing its efforts to adopt the values of craftsmanship, quality, safety and sustainability in its products and ensuring fair and transparent communication with its customers, which includes being constantly attentive to their needs.
After developing these ambitious aims the implementation of the Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility Policy is the responsibility of a management system, applied to each individual business process, which cuts across all functions. This ensures the continued involvement of the company management through the CSR Board and Corporate Committees, with the aim of integrating social responsibility and sustainability into the business strategies; this structure ensures the coordination and monitoring of all sustainability projects and the implementation of policies and guidelines; the adoption of the highest international standards and guidelines with respect to issues involving human rights, employment, people, health, safety, the environment, a sustainable supply of raw materials, biodiversity and animal welfare.
This era should definitely be focused on actions and not just strategies and plans in terms of sustainable implementation and progress. It is clear that no matter what Gucci or any other company would do in terms of sustainability this is a drop in the ocean if nobody else will join this trendy movement. Gucci's CEO Marco Bizzarri said it well “We cannot wait to be perfect to act — it’s going to be too late.”
+ Words: Danielle Keller Aviram
Danielle Keller Aviram is a sustainable jewelry and fashion researcher, consultant and designer. She graduated an M.A focusing on sustainability in fashion at AMD Berlin after doing her B.A in jewelry and accessories design in "Shenkar" Tel Aviv. After her B.A she had her own international fine jewelry brand operating for 5 years.