A list dominated by IT and IT-enabled services companies as the top places to work has a surprising new entry this year - Gap's international sourcing organisation based in India.

What makes Gap's entry even more surprising is that most apparel sourcing operations tend to be known more for work pressure than for a pleasurable and empowering environment.

The study, to select the most employee-friendly companies, included responses from over 16,000 employees of 121 companies in India.

Gap's entry into the list is attributed to an environment that is "both professionally satisfying and fun". 

Anant Sadana, general manager (Indian subcontinent) mentions trust and great operational latitude as critical factors, and Subir Vyas, director (HR) differentiates them from "simple delegation".

Constant training, a 'buddy'-system of skill transfer and a young age-profile (average around 30-years of age) are some elements that Gap's sourcing operation shares with the IT and ITES companies.

Gap India's organisational success certainly shows up in its operational metrics - merchandising executives are reported to handle an average of US$5m worth of business each, well above industry averages.

The sourcing operation based in India is also globally significant for Gap, as it accounts for an estimated 35% of the company's global sourcing across its brands, Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic.

The India-based operation handles sourcing from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Dubai and Bahrain for Gap's businesses globally.