Gap Inc. employees were treated to quite a surprise at their annual meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday.
But the unexpected news wasn't the kind you usually hear at a business meeting. Women's Wear Daily reports that within the first few hours of the meeting, the company learned they were the subject of an Internet hoax -- a website complete with a phony press release which claimed the brand would be signing an accord for better working conditions in Bangladesh and compensating those affected in the Aswad Composite Mills fire in October 2013, adding:
"We ask other brands and retailers to join with us in the accord to work together to prevent further terrible tragedies in Bangladesh. We are committed to compensating the families of those who have lost their lives and those injured in our supply chain. Just as we provided compensation following the That’s It Sportswear fire in December 2010, we will be providing $200,000 in compensation to those affected by the Aswad Composite Mills fire in October 2013."
The Asian American activist group 18 Million Rising claimed responsibility for the hoax, providing an explanation and posing even further questions for the brand, who has still yet to sign the accord that will provide safer working conditions in Bangladesh. "This is not about a hoax on the company, it’s about justice for the workers who make the company possible. Gap Inc. has refused so far to 'do more' for the most vulnerable workers in its supply chain, so now we are demanding more," they said.
Unfortunately, Gap has denied involvement with poor working conditions as recently as last year, when Al Jazeera released video footage of 12-year-old girls sewing Old Navy (a Gap Inc. brand) labels onto jeans.
Representatives from Gap were quick to say that the site was phony, however, it has garnered attention already, and shone light onto the fact that there are still many steps to be taken in order to ensure the safety and fair treatment of workers. Hopefully this "prank" is the push companies need to make a more concerted effort toward a better, safer industry.