Here we are on day 17 of sheltering-in-place in California. It’s been a full week of social distancing / spending time only with the people in my own family since I last wrote. Having this time with them is certainly the silver lining in this crisis. Though I’d sure like to see some people outside my family sometime soon!
We’ve been working around the clock trying to bring a bit of joy and uplift to people every day with our 5:01 LIVE program. And I’ve been immersed in reading about what our industry is doing to provide help and support in all manner of ways during this crisis and I’m utterly inspired and humbled by the outpouring. My emotional roller coaster – described in my last post as going from fear to sobering responsibility to determination and back again – now also includes extreme gratitude and pride to be part of a community that cares so much and is trying to contribute in so many ways, to ease the suffering and find a way forward.
It is in that vein that I want to share what Levi Strauss & Co is doing to respond to the crisis and provide much needed support during this unprecedented time. We have a long history of leadership when it comes to supporting our employees, the communities we operate within and the fans we serve and walk through life with. We integrated factories in the South before the law required it, we were the first Fortune 500 company to offer same sex partner benefits and this moment presents another opportunity to do the right thing. It is a moment of extreme hardship – yes; but if we band together, give all that we can as individuals and as a collective, we can emerge stronger.
Ok – first off, as you know we started the 5:01 LIVE program on Instagram Live. I’ve enjoyed watching each day at 5:01PM pst with my kids. We danced to DaniLeigh, Snoop Dogg and Taboo, joined hands for Moses Sumney, rocked out to Vic Mensa and found our love of country with Brett Young. Our team in Europe has introduced this program as well and now Londoners can enjoy live concerts at 5:01 each day on the UK IG live channel. We’ve dedicated $500,000 for the program, with all funds going directly to the creative community. This community of artists has brought us so much joy, so many unforgettable moments. We simply want to pay it back by supporting them through this time.
That’s one part of a much bigger effort by Levi Strauss & Co. and the Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) to support people in need right now. Together, as a start, we are committing $3 million to support communities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis around the globe – with a focus on our employees, groups working to serve underserved and at-risk in their communities, and the people who make our products, the vast majority of whom are women.
I’m struck by the fact that so many non-profits will struggle to fundraise during this time. With that in mind, the Levi Strauss Foundation is focused on supporting vanguard organizations that are championing marginalized people who will feel the deepest impacts of COVID-19 crisis. For more than 65 years, the Levi Strauss Foundation has worked to advance the human rights and well-being of underserved people across the globe in the areas of HIV/AIDS, worker rights and well-being and social justice. The mission doesn’t change now, it just intensifies.
Some organizations we’ll support through the crisis include:
· Chinese for Affirmative Action – we’ve always fought for equality. This organization is fighting back against coronavirus related racism directed at the Asian community in the U.S. and we stand by them and their mission, more necessary than ever during this time.
· Vision Spring – we have always stood by the workers in our supply chain who make this brand and business possible. In this manner, we are focused on public health responses targeted towards apparel workers. Vison Spring is pivoting factories to produce protective gear for community health workers in communities where apparel workers live.
· Swasti in India – they support the emergency needs of apparel workers in India.
· Hubei Youth Foundation – we’ve donated masks and medical equipment through this Chinese youth organization, providing protection and necessary supplies to frontline healthcare workers as well as citizens in the Hubei region of mainland China.
· The Tipping Point – they fight poverty in the Bay Area, providing support for organizations that provide a safety net to those in need, right here in our back yard.
· A range of other organizations including Doctors Without Borders and the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Rights, a fund that addresses threats to security and safety of women in the wake of pandemic.
We’re also working hard to help our own employees and retirees, who are the heart and soul of the company. The Red Tab Foundation, an employee funded employee assistance fund – the first of its kind in our industry – was built for times like these. They are fielding a sharp increase in requests for help. And we’re mobilizing and raising funds to answer the need. We are also advising companies that have called us asking for guidance on setting up similar funds to assist their employees through tough times.
This is just the beginning. There will be more. But I hope it gives you a sense of how we are aiming to provide help and respond to the moment, in the way that Levi’s® always has.
I’m working hard to maintain a positive outlook. I’m still getting dressed every day in my favourite vintage 501s. Yup, the same pair every day. I am practising loving what I wear and living with it longer. I’ve added a #handstandchallenge to my social feed. Join me if you’re up for it. You have time to teach yourself one! My husband taught himself a handstand at 40. You can do it too. Read a book, tune in to 5:01 LIVE. Lend a hand. Try to stay positive. We aren’t sure what the future holds and that is, perhaps, the hardest part in all of this – the uncertainty. Do your best. If you’re having a tough day, phone a friend for help. If you’re having a good day, phone a friend TO help.
We will come together again. To enjoy music. To dance. To celebrate the little things.
Chief Marketing Officer