Empowering Women One Piece of Clothing at a Time

J.Jill

5. Gender Equality 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

The Compassion Fund is a complex innovation founded in 2002 with a mission to support community-based organizations that help disadvantaged and homeless women become self-sufficient. The Fund has given back to nearly 100 organizations across the country while donating nearly 700,000 pieces of clothing to women in need. The efforts of the Compassion Fund directly relate to four of the SDGs, including gender equality, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, and partnerships for the goals.

Authors

Justin Freeman

Justin Freeman

Mercy Lelago

Mercy Lelago

Hannah Nguyen

Hannah Nguyen

School

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University

Professor

Randal Franz

Randal Franz

Innovation

J.Jill company’s innovation is supporting women financially and mentally through an innovation called the Compassion Fund. The fund was founded in 2002 with the mission and ultimate goal to support community-based organizations that help disadvantaged and homeless women become self-sufficient. J.Jill acknowledges all of the challenges and difficulties that women have to face in education, career, the daily basics, and even to feel good at being who they are. They believe that women are not decided by any type of demographic including size, ages, and any boundaries and expectations from others or society. They want to create a community where women empower each other while living a life filled with joy, passion, and purpose.

Through the fund, women are helped on their journeys to move forward not only for themselves but also for their children and families. J.Jill seeks to expand its innovation toward women on a larger scale by partnering with various profit and non-profit organizations that have the same mission. From there, they are able to highlight and support women who work in arts, architecture, behind the Hollywood scenes, authors, singers, nurses, and especially those who have been victims of human trafficking. The innovation is strongly related to the company’s mission of empowering women, as it reflects the confidence that all women should have in society. J.Jill's success has been dominantly influenced by this innovation due to its commitment to supporting and empowering women in many different fields.J.Jill company’s innovation is supporting women financially and mentally through an innovation called the Compassion Fund. The fund was founded in 2002 with the mission and ultimate goal to support community-based organizations that help disadvantaged and homeless women become self-sufficient. J.Jill acknowledges all of the challenges and difficulties that women have to face in education, career, the daily basics, and even to feel good at being who they are. They believe that women are not decided by any type of demographic including size, ages, and any boundaries and expectations from others or society. They want to create a community where women empower each other while living a life filled with joy, passion, and purpose.

Through the fund, women are helped on their journeys to move forward not only for themselves but also for their children and families. J.Jill seeks to expand its innovation toward women on a larger scale by partnering with various profit and non-profit organizations that have the same mission. From there, they are able to highlight and support women who work in arts, architecture, behind the Hollywood scenes, authors, singers, nurses, and especially those who have been victims of human trafficking. The innovation is strongly related to the company’s mission of empowering women, as it reflects the confidence that all women should have in society. J.Jill's success has been dominantly influenced by this innovation due to its commitment to supporting and empowering women in many different fields.

The Compassion Fund addresses three Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). The dominant purpose of the Compassion Fund combines two of the SDGs: Gender Equality, and Reduced Inequalities. This innovation was created for the sole purpose of empowering women. It is meant to give women more opportunities in areas such as education, career development, and starting a business. In our society, women still have less access to education and employment. The Compassion Fund has made it its mission to fight this inequality by educating and giving women more opportunities to join the workforce. Another SDG the Compassion Fund addresses is Sustainable Cities and Communities. The Compassion Fund has created programs that have multiple environmental benefits. One element of the Compassion Fund is a program called Gently Worn, which essentially encourages customers to bring in old clothes to be donated to women in need through JJill's Compassion Fund partners. This element is crucial to the inspiration behind the Compassion Fund, as it allows members of the community to be involved and feel as though they can actually make a difference and further J.Jill's mission to help women. This program allows J.Jill`s customers to donate their clothes and receive J.Jill discounts. The Compassion Fund is able to donate more than 70,0000 pieces of clothing through this program, thus creating a sustainable impact on communities throughout the United States.

Empowering Women One Piece of Clothing at a Time

Inspiration

The inspiration behind this fund is to provide support to community-based organizations that help disadvantaged and homeless women become self-sufficient. J.Jill gives back to nearly 100 organizations across the country while donating over 700,000 pieces of clothing, making sure to spread love and compassion in the process. They find and partner with organizations based in the United States that have the highest levels of female poverty. Every year the company attempts to broaden its scope to help more and more women.

The motivation behind the fund started while the CEO was on the board of an organization called Woman in Need. The CEO decided that she wanted to continue to work with this organization but broaden the scope for helping different groups of women in the process. She came up with the idea of "shopping, giving and connecting", which led to the vision behind the Compassion Fund. The Compassion fund has now incorporated "Compassion Products" that are specifically designed with the community in mind, as 100% of the proceeds from these products go towards the fund. They will also designate special days where 10% of non-compassion products will go towards the fund.

An additional element of the Fund is a program called "Gently Warn", where customers will bring in old clothes to be donated to others through J.jills Compassion Fund partners. This element is crucial to the inspiration behind the Compassion Fund, as it allows members of the community to help out and feel as if they can actually make a difference and further J.Jill's mission to help women.

Overall impact

The Compassion Fund has had an immense impact on numerous communities. In 2020, the Compassion Fund helped 50,000 women through various organizations by providing “access to local outreach and community-based organizations focused on self-sufficiency and development, education and entrepreneurship, and health and wellness." The Compassion Fund provides opportunities for women to pursue higher education and become financially independent. In addition, the Compassion Fund helps women who have been impacted by the justice system, addiction, and homelessness to get back on their feet and be independent by educating and inspiring them through different programs. The Fund also helps connect these women with professionals to enhance their network and help spark their future endeavors.

The Compassion Fund's marketing strategies follow the mission of inspiring and empowering women. Due to the expansion of social media, many women struggle with confidence. Social media portrays a certain type of image on how women are supposed to look and many brands market on this unattainable and unrealistic standard, which negatively affects those who do not fit the image. J.Jill is for all women regardless of age, background, and size. A great example is their project in the Fall of 2018, where they took photos of their board members with their CEO and used these photos on their website and their stores showing that they are a brand for "real and remarkable women." This has impacted their customers by giving them the confidence to embrace their differences and be confident in their bodies.

The Compassion Fund shares stories and data publicly to show its contribution to supporting women. They feature women that they help on their website and catalog, publish stories in magazines, conduct press releases, and even have a Youtube channel that expresses the impact that this program has had on various communities. They have donated more than $17 million in grants and in-kind donations. One of the students on our team has received a scholarship from the Compassion Fund through the Washington Women in Need organization. This scholarship has diminished this student's financial burden and allowed her to pursue higher education as a first-generation student. There are many other women who are able to work on achieving their dreams with the support of the Compassion Fund.

Business benefit

The implementation of the Compassion Fund has altered the narrative for J.Jill’s business, as many potential employees have become interested in applying due to their shared vision to promote women. The Compassion Fund brought J.Jill’s vision to life, and quickly became a monumental advancement for the direction of the company. The increase in employee recruitment and retention was largely influenced by the internal motivation created by the Compassion Fund. Motivation is a dominant source of influence for a business, and the effect of this fund reflects many of the business theories.

Further, the J.Jill community has rallied around the mission of the fund, thus enhancing affiliation within the organization. We learned in our interview that organizational effort and encouragement increased at a rate that mirrored the advancement of the fund, thus proving that the process of carrying out this mission is crucial for employee retention and motivation. Tina Haggerty, our interview contact, noted that creating teamwork amongst leaders and associates is imperative to the success of the fund. Additionally, J.Jill employees work together on a bi-weekly internal publication, called “Brand News”, that provides updates on the success of the fund. The positive stories within this publication drive motivation within the company, which ultimately increases employee satisfaction while improving overall cohesiveness.

Social and environmental benefit

Inspired Women is one of the programs the Compassion Fund has created that has had large societal impacts. Every year, women are selected from a specific field to be featured in the Inspired Women program. The Compassion Fund celebrates these women by giving money and publishing their stories on their websites and other magazines. In 2020. Health care workers were selected for their outstanding role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The Compassion Fund-supported health care workers by giving 100% of their net from the Compassion Fund products. They also dedicated a month to celebrate nurses, inspiring other women to thrive on their careers.

The Gently Worn program is another program the Compassion fund has created, which has both environmental and societal benefits. The Gently worn is a program where J. Jill's customers donate their clothes for women in need and receive a J.Jill discount as a reward. This program allows their customer to support their community as well as benefit the environment by reusing clothes. The Compassion Fund has donated more than 70,0000 clothes through this program for women who need new clothes.

Interview

Tina Hagerty, Manager of Corporate Communications

Photo of interviewee

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J.Jill

J.Jill

Quincy, Massachusetts, US

Business Website: https://www.jjill.com/

Year Founded: 1959

Number of Employees: 1001 to 5000

J.Jill is a women's clothing brand with a mission to empower women while providing an easy, relaxed, and inspiring style that reflects self-confidence. The company was founded in 1959 and has been developed into 280 retail stores across the United States. J.Jill's success has been largely influenced by their commitment to supporting and empowering women through an innovation called the Compassion Fund.