The following abridged message was originally shared with employees on April 2nd, from Levi’s President and CEO, Chip Bergh.
As our communities around the globe face the growing impacts of the COVID-19 crisis – from health threats to social isolation, food insecurity, racism and economic instability – we are all united by our desire to find ways to help. We’ve heard from employees in every region about how you are stepping up right now as individuals – taking care of your neighbors, reaching out to those in need and donating to those most critically impacted.
And we’ve also heard from many of you asking what Levi Strauss & Co. is doing to help respond to the crisis. We have a legacy of leadership and doing the right thing, and we want to let you know the steps we are taking to fulfill that responsibility now.
We know our response will evolve as the impact of the crisis continues to play out – but to start with, we are committing $3 million to relief efforts, with a focus on employees, community partners and supply chain workers. Fortunately, supporting our communities through tough challenges is nothing new to LS&Co. We have strong programs and networks in place that we have been able to quickly pivot toward this response.
The Red Tab Foundation
First and foremost, we’re committed to helping our own people through this crisis. The Red Tab Foundation (RTF) was built for times like these and is already playing a critical role with our employees, fielding a sharp increase in requests for assistance from around the world in just the last week. Their leadership in this space is so highly thought of that they have become a go-to resource for other companies in the industry right now looking for advice on how to set up employee assistance funds.
The Levi Strauss Foundation
While there are a lot of unknowns right now with this global pandemic, it is clear that the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) can play a vital role in protecting some of the most vulnerable in its wake. In these early days of the crisis that is likely to have long-lasting impacts, LSF is focused on supporting vanguard organizations that are championing marginalized people who are likely to be most affected, including:
Chinese for Affirmative Action, which is fighting back against the coronavirus-related racism directed toward Asian Americans.
VisionSpring, which is helping factories pivot to produce protective gear for community health workers in communities where apparel workers live.
Various other organizations – like the Bay Area’s Tipping Point, Swasti in India, Doctors Without Borders and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights – that are addressing the very real impacts the pandemic is having on vulnerable communities.
In addition to a first round of more than 15 grants, LSF will continue to support its current grantees to ensure that they are well-positioned to meet the needs of the communities they serve, and is gearing up to lend additional support to the people in the global supply chain who make our products.
Employees Giving Back
Of all the ways that we bring profits through principles to life, the most vital expression of our values comes through our employees. We launched a 3:1 Employee Giving Campaign that has raised more than $160,000 to date supporting a wide range of organizations that are filling critical needs related to the pandemic, from the global (like the World Health Organization’s COVID–19 Solidarity Response Fund) to the very local (like Convivial in Brussels, supporting refugees and asylum-seekers; Spark* SF Public Schools, providing emergency meals for San Francisco school children; and Give2Asia, protecting frontline health workers in countries across Asia).
We’re also continuing to connect our employees to volunteer opportunities for the causes they care about – virtually, of course. We’re working to mobilize volunteer opportunities to ensure employees can make a difference with organizations serving the underrepresented in our communities, even if they have to do it from a distance.
In addition, dozens of employees have demonstrated just how seriously we take our commitment to supporting our own by volunteering with the Red Tab Foundation to make outreach calls to LS&Co. retirees in the coming weeks.
5:01 Live Series
Levi’s® is helping you stay connected to your favorite artists – from Snoop Dogg to Brett Young – right from your own home with the “5:01 Live” series on the Levi’s® Instagram channel, as well as the brand’s market-level channels globally. Every day, you can watch a different artist perform (available for 24 hours afterward if you miss the live version). It’s a powerful way for the brand to support smaller artists, and some performers are asking the brand to instead donate on their behalf to nonprofits helping those impacted by COVID-19.
Supporting Workers in Our Supply Chain
The Levi Strauss Foundation is working with partner organizations in a number of sourcing countries to help address the immediate impact of the coronavirus in the apparel supply chain. This will include a series of grants focused on public health support and food security for factory workers, particularly for women who are most vulnerable to economic shocks.
We are also working with industry stakeholders to explore options for a collective response to support workers during this crisis. We have a long history of sharing our learnings and approach to improving apparel worker well-being, and will continue to do this during this time. No one company will be able to combat the impact of this devastating crisis alone, but together we can make a difference.
Meeting the Need for Masks
It’s clear that there is currently a shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE), like medical-grade masks, that health workers need. We are therefore donating medical-grade masks that we had stored for employee safety to hospitals around the globe (nearly 10,000 to date) and are connecting employees to resources to donate any extra N95 masks and other PPE they might have to their local hospitals.
We are also exploring how we might be able to support efforts to get masks to those who need them and are exploring what’s possible from both a manufacturing and innovation perspective.
And we know that homemade masks can serve a purpose for medical workers not directly treating suspected COVID-19 patients and other community members in less high-risk situations. We have employees from across the company who have raised their hands to sew homemade masks for these lower-risk settings.
This is just the beginning, and we will keep you updated as our company response develops. I know we are asking a great deal of all of you, and as always, you are rising to the challenge – demonstrating your flexibility and commitment to our brands and consumers. Your response during this time continually renews my optimism that we will successfully navigate this crisis, as we have so many others in our 167-year history.