A Message from Chip Bergh, President and CEO, Levi Strauss & Co.
Thank you for taking the time to read Levi Strauss & Co.’s (LS&Co.) first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Impact Report. This report is a reflection of our commitment to fully and transparently communicate our progress in making our company a more diverse and inclusive one. We are tackling our DE&I opportunity just like we would any business opportunity: we have done a lot of analysis, listening, learning and have put strategies and plans in place along with metrics to track our progress. You will read about these in this report.
The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in the spring of 2020 and the movement that followed, shone a bright light on the issues of structural racism. This company has a long track record of standing up for equality and fighting racism. We desegregated our factories in the south/southeast ten years before the Civil Rights Act, and in the past five years alone we’ve invested thirty-five million dollars through the Levi Strauss Foundation. This investment supports non-profit organizations working to address critical needs in Black and Brown communities globally.
But the events of mid-2020 forced me to look internally at our own organization. And the brutal truth was that we were not as diverse of a company as we needed to be. We were not as inclusive as we needed to be. I spent time listening to stories from some of our Black colleagues about the micro-aggressions and challenges they faced on a daily basis. That’s not the kind of company I want us to be. I want everyone to feel that they can bring their true, authentic self to work every day and be inspired to make a difference.
I committed then that part of my legacy must be that I have re-shaped the organization and culture to be more diverse and inclusive and to reflect the consumers we serve around the world. It is not just the right thing to do. It is a business imperative – it will make us a much better and stronger company. I firmly believe that a diverse organization will out-compete a homogenous one every time. As good as our business results have been over the last decade, in my heart, I know we could have done even better if we had been more diverse over that time. I want every employee to be able to look at their professional future and see a home where they can develop, grow and shape a legacy of their own while leading this company into the future. That means, too, that they need role models at all levels of the company.
I have said publicly that we can no longer be silent about racism. If we aren’t actively fighting to fix it – to tear down the structures of racism and discrimination – then we are complicit in it being perpetuated. That is truest inside our own organization, which is completely within our own control. So, in June 2020, we committed to building a more diverse and inclusive culture; and being fully transparent on an annual basis with our progress, including disclosing our diversity metrics publicly.
We identified a number of concrete action steps we would take – many of which we’ve either completed or have made good progress on. But, real, lasting, structural change will take time.
Our commitment to reporting our results annually is a way to keep ourselves accountable to continue to make meaningful progress. DE&I is not separate from, or in addition to what we’re doing on the business side. It’s integrated into everything we are doing now. This Impact Report serves as a blueprint – a guide to how we’re laying the foundation for a more equitable and better future by building a company more worthy of everyone who works here.
President and CEO