Old Navy CEO: Open for Business Should Mean Open for Everyone

June 27, 2019, 3:57 PM UTC
Old Navy employees in front of a store in Times Square in New York City.
Courtesy of Old Navy

I start each day by reading customer feedback, and when I come across quotes like this one, I’m stopped in my tracks: “I was 14 years old when Old Navy opened up in my town in 1994. It was the first place I felt like I could find clothes for me. … Honestly, Old Navy is a part of my turning into an adult and figuring out my style evolution.”

I was that customer growing up. I never felt like there was a store or brand that was meant for me. Everything was too expensive, too short for my tall frame. I didn’t see myself reflected in any of the marketing staring back at me, asking me to come and shop. And because of that, rather than enjoy retail therapy, I was left feeling like I didn’t belong.

That is what lights a fire in me. It’s a reminder of why I do what I do, and why Old Navy exists.

This year, Old Navy celebrates its 25th birthday. As our team began thinking about how to commemorate this exciting milestone, we knew the best way to celebrate our brand, the mission that drove us from the beginning and what has held true ever since, is through our commitment to belonging.

Since 1994, we’ve set out to democratize style. To us, that means everyone is welcome and should feel like they belong the moment they enter our stores, try on our clothes, and experience the Old Navy brand. No customer is the same as any other, and that’s exactly as it should be. Income, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, immigration status, religion, disability status, or shape should never be a barrier to feeling and looking your best. We believe what you wear plays a role in celebrating your values. Everyone deserves to feel confident, empowered, and equal.

As one of the most recognized brands in the world with a platform that reaches millions, it’s our job to ensure the dialogue around equality and sense of belonging remains open and ongoing. And the work we’re doing to further representation and equality will never be done.

In that spirit, Old Navy is joining forces with Open to All—a coalition of businesses, civil rights and faith leaders, and communities across the country affirming their belief that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be open to everyone on the same terms. (Businesses can join the movement and sign the pledge that their business is Open to All here.) Our stores across the U.S.—and coming soon, in Mexico and Canada—proudly display an Open to All window decal to serve as a sign to all who work for and shop our brand that Old Navy is a place where everyone belongs—no matter who you are, who you love, what you believe, or where you live.

Our wish on our 25th birthday is that all retailers will help ensure customers feel welcome in their places of business. We can all play a part to ensure that belonging is not just a trend.

Sonia Syngal is the president and CEO of Old Navy.

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