Judy Adler on creating systemic change in the fashion industry - Kathy Varol
Alan Murray
June 8, 2022   |   Episode #: 031

Judy Adler on creating systemic change in the fashion industry

Show Notes:

Judy Adler is the VP of Global Sustainability & ESG at Gap Inc. Founded in San Francisco in 1969, Gap Inc. is a collection of purpose-led lifestyle brands: Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Athleta. Each of their brands has made strong commitments to help achieve the Gap Inc purpose, which is to be inclusive by design.

Judy is a thought leader with 25 years of experience developing and implementing collaborative climate change, water stewardship, and sustainability strategies; and leading equity, inclusion, environmental justice, and diversity initiatives.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The power of audacious dreams
  • Two factors that are necessary to have a successful ESG approach
  • Using systems thinking and strategic partnerships to create systemic change
  • Lessons for retailers just starting their ESG journey

Key Takeaways: 

  • User experience on a website isn’t something I usually think about when considering ways to raise awareness or influence behavior, and yet, it can be a really important tool. There is considerable power in the default setting. The way items are presented and categorized become data points that influence how our brains process information, and what information we start expecting. If you begin seeing the sustainability impact of a shirt communicated, you’ll realize there is a sustainability impact in a shirt, and you might be curious to compare one shirt versus another based on that metric. You also might become curious about the sustainability of other items you purchase and request those companies to begin calculating and transparently sharing their impact too so you can make informed decisions. Until one day, sustainability impact becomes a default metric we consider across our purchases, the same way price, convenience, or materials are today.
  • The interconnection between environmental and social, when considering ESG. These two areas have a lot of overlap and interdependence. The environment around you—such as air quality, clean water, or toxins—will impact your health. And the way that humans live has a huge impact on the planet. One interesting tidbit about this overlap is that the next huge wave of refugees is expected to be climate change refugees, as people’s homes are lost and communities are displaced because of climate events like rising sea levels.
  • As a company that’s starting your ESG or sustainability journey, you don’t need to do it alone. There are a lot of resources out there—including best practices—so you don’t need to recreate the wheel. There are also consultants, like me, that can support you on your journey.


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