Walk the Walk: PVH’s Approach to Corporate Responsibility & Purpose
Featured Events | Mar 19, 2020 | Gabelli School of Business
By Stephanie Trovato
PVH Corp., one of the largest global apparel companies, is known for more than their fashion, as they continue to break barriers and exceed expectations in the world of sustainability and corporate responsibility.
At a fireside chat to kick off the Work 2040: Future of Work in a Sustainable World conference, Manny Chirico, GABELLI ’79, PVH’s CEO and chairman, shared the purpose behind the actions of the well-known apparel company and how that purpose came to be. The drive to please their employees, customers and shareholders, combined with a bold stance on sustainability, has defined PVH as a game changer in the apparel world.
PVH Has a Purpose
“Each company must have a corporate purpose that their associates can get behind,” Chirico said when asked about PVH’s sense purpose and the level to which it is embraced.
PVH sets themselves apart by recognizing that each decision made has an impact on all aspects of business; including distribution, production, retail, and the employees. The company’s corporate responsibility strategy, Forward Fashion, has focused on several key areas, including its impact on the environment and on its global supply chain, which extends to over one million people.
For a company, stating these attributes is only one piece to the puzzle, Chirico said. Applying them, being accountable, being authentic, and having the ability to show that to your employees, investors, and customers is what Chirico said sets PVH above other companies in the same space.
Part of PVH’s journey toward being recognized for its successful corporate responsibility practices has been recognizing the need to walk before you run, he said. PVH’s team established an overall strategy that was meaningful, and which contained transparent, measurable targets that people are held accountable for. Chirico shared, “A company can talk the talk all day, but are they walking the walk? That is what shows their true values.”
Why Doesn’t Everyone Do It?
A company like PVH is one to admire and value, so why doesn’t every apparel company strive for the same sense of purpose? Several challenges are facing the industry today that continue to make it difficult to be authentic and hold corporate responsibility as a high standard.
Manufacturing for the apparel industry is performed globally and holding up your end of the bargain of being a responsible corporation becomes that much more complex when working somewhere in which you have little situational control. As Chirico explained, “Constant partnerships with governments and manufacturers are necessary to keep your company’s name in good standing.”
Attracting Talent with Company Values
Claiming company values is one thing, but holding proof of your actions in corporate responsibility and sustainability can give the employee talent pool a reason to choose your company over others.
PVH took this into account when they developed their own recruitment and employee sign-on process. “We know we are not the highest payer in the industry,” Chirico said. ”It’s not about the highest cash salary. We build a long-term platform for our employees. We still even have an active pension plan.”
He shared that PVH understands there are several key components to keeping people working for a company, which include opportunities for advancement, feeling heard and listened to and, most importantly, instilling among employees a sense of pride in the company they are working for. Manny proudly stated, “Our two most important assets are our brands and our people, and we try very hard to invest heavily in both.”
In addition to the company values, PVH offers employees admission to PVH University, a global training program that provides leadership opportunities that address the needs managers will have throughout their employment. “The University highlights the need to invest in your people, long-term, to create a great team of leaders that will make a lasting difference.”