Editor’s Note: The following was shared with Levi Strauss & Co. employees today from our CEO, Chip Bergh.
This past Friday, President Trump issued an executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including a permanent ban on Syrian refugees, from entering the United States. Like many of you, I’ve been watching the news and wondering what this means for our employees and our business; but even more, what these new policies mean for our country and for the world.
For generations, the United States has played such an important role in being a safe haven from oppression and wars, and for openly receiving immigrants. Our country has benefited immensely from those who have come to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves and their families, and we would not be the country we are today were it not for immigration. In fact, we would not be the company we are today if it weren’t for Levi Strauss, who was himself an immigrant. He instilled a sense of doing what’s right, and our company values of empathy, originality, integrity and courage are perhaps even more meaningful today than they were 163 years ago.
It’s because of these values that we have never been afraid of diversity and inclusion or speaking up about it. We desegregated our factories in the U.S. 10 years before it became the law of the land. We were one of the first companies to offer domestic partner healthcare benefits, long before it was popular. We have been a strong voice for inclusion, diversity and giving everyone an opportunity to achieve their fullest potential at LS&Co. regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality or religious preference. We know, deep in our soul, that diversity of all kinds is good for business and that a diverse organization will outperform a homogeneous one every time.
It is, in fact, our values that are guiding our perspective with respect to the executive order on immigration. Any policy that seeks to restrict or limit immigration based on race, nationality or religion is antithetical to what we believe as a company. Our success has been based on our ability to attract and retain the very best talent from all backgrounds, to embrace diversity, to be inclusive and benefit from different perspectives. Restricting the flow of talented individuals will, over time, impact the competitiveness of the country and the companies based here in the U.S.
We will not sit idly by. Because our employees are our first priority, we are reaching out to any employee who may be directly affected. We will stand by our colleagues and their families and offer support to any employee or family member directly affected by the ban. Looking back on the history of this company, we are not afraid to take a stand on important issues of our day, and I believe this is one of those moments. If we stay true to our values and support those who champion equality and justice while working with policymakers to ensure our voice is heard, I’m confident our business and our communities will be stronger as a result.