innovative practices: people
People are at the center of our success. Whether it’s our employees around the world, the apparel workers who make our clothes, or the people who wear our products, whom we strive to engage and delight, we are committed to doing right by all of them.
Since publishing our Terms of Engagement in 1991, Levi Strauss & Co. has been a respected leader in protecting worker rights and ensuring safe, healthy, humane labor conditions.
Our TOE established a comprehensive workplace code of conduct for our manufacturing supplies and specifies the requirements by which all of our contract factories must abide. The Terms also set employment standards and specifically address issues of child labor, forced labor, disciplinary practices, working hours, wages and benefits, freedom of association, discrimination, and health and safety. We’re now piloting a new approach with factories that moves beyond compliance to help improve the lives of workers beyond the factory walls. The new approach, Improving Workers Well-Being, is outlined in this research paper.
As pioneers in the fight for fair employment practices, we firmly believe that workplace standards and worker rights should be an integral part of all bilateral, regional or multilateral trade negotiations. Levi Strauss & Co. publicly advocates for linkage of trade and labor, incorporating key workplace standards and worker rights provisions within the context of trade agreements through congressional testimony, meetings with senior government officials, trade negotiations and multi-stakeholder initiatives. Read more about our commitment to government advocacy.
The Levi Strauss Foundation focuses on funding programs that strengthen worker rights and improve the working and living conditions for the people who make our products. Read more about our commitment in the community.
But the way we care for our workers extends well beyond the factory. We seek to ensure that workers have the training and tools they need to stay healthy outside the workplace, reducing absenteeism and lost wages and increasing productivity. We also support innovative local, regional and global nonprofit organizations that support our established TOE. Read a case study about our support for women apparel workers in developing countries.
HERPROJECT AND LEVI STRAUSS & CO
- Her Project and Levi Strauss & Co.
A MATTER OF EQUALITY AND INCLUSION: AN ISSUE THAT AFFECTS ALL OF US
For the past 30+ years, Levi Strauss & Co. has maintained a sustained approach to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that addresses both the health and social factors preventing a definitive response to end the epidemic. We believe that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is more than a medical condition. It’s also a matter of eliminating the stigmatization and discrimination of people living and affected by HIV/AIDS.
For this reason, our corporate response comprises everyone: community partners, supply chain partners, Levi Strauss & Co. employees and their families — and you.
EMPLOYEE HIV/AIDS PROGRAM: PREVENTION, EDUCATION, TREATMENT AND CARE FOR EMPLOYEES AND THEIR FAMILIES
We believe that improving access to HIV/AIDS education and services involves creating a supportive workplace. Guided by our Worldwide HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy, the Employee HIV/AIDS Program is a comprehensive offering of HIV/AIDS support for employees and their families in more than 40 countries. The impact of this program has been recognized globally by GBCHealth’s 2009 Richard C. Holbrooke Award for Business Leadership and 2013 Business Action on Health Award.
LEVI STRAUSS FOUNDATION: SUPPORTING COMMUNITY PIONEERS LEADING THE CHARGE
The Levi Strauss Foundation believes that people affected by HIV/AIDS deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and must have access to critical HIV/AIDS services. The Levi Strauss Foundation supports policy advocacy, law reform and other efforts to eradicate discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and provide assistance to those who are most vulnerable to infection, including the apparel workers who make our products.
Since 1983, Levi Strauss & Co. and the Levi Strauss Foundation have contributed more $60 million in grants to HIV/AIDS organizations in more than 40 countries.
LEVI’S® BRAND: RAISING CONSUMER AWARENESS
By integrating HIV/AIDS into our global marketing strategies, we help educate consumers and put an emphasis on prevention. In 2012, Levi’s® employees contributed our second AIDS Memorial Quilt panel—thirty years after the Company’s first response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and twenty four years after we contributed our first quilt. The 2012 panel was made of recycled Levi’s® jeans and denim and consisted of stories and tributes from our retail employees across the Americas. We also captured quotes from our employees all around the world, each answering what the end of AIDS would mean to them.
LEVI’S SUNSET RIBBON RED HIV / AIDS MUSIC VIDEO
We believe that “later” too often means “never” in the fight for a socially just world. By letting our company voice be heard, we act as a force for change, supporting the movement toward an equitable society for all. Thus we are engaged in the battle for equal rights on many fronts: racial, gender, sexual and economic.
USING THE POWER OF ACTION TO INFLUENCE HOW PEOPLE SEE THE WORLD
Through our public policy advocacy, our media and advertising presence, and our work in the community, we aim to influence how people around the world perceive and treat others. For example, the U.S. Levi’s® brand has led pioneering efforts in the fight for equality for decades. Levi Strauss & Co. is part of a broad coalition of marriage equality supporters urging the Supreme Court to recognize the fundamental right of all Americans to marry. In 2013, we joined the “friend of the court” briefs for both the United States v. Windsor case on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Hollingsworth v. Perry case on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 in the state of California. And in 2007, LS&Co. was the only California business to file an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court, supporting same-sex marriage.
The company is also strongly supportive of the United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles, guide posts for actions that advance and empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. It’s especially relevant for an apparel company, where so many of those who make the products we sell are women – up to 75%, depending upon the country. Another example of Levi Strauss & Co. putting its words into action is a partnership with Business for Social Responsibility on a big idea: The HERproject – for Health Enables Returns – seeks to educate apparel factory workers about reproductive health and access to health services.
EXPANDING THE FRONTIERS OF OPPORTUNITY
While many people are aware of the income divide between men and women and between people of different races and ethnic backgrounds, the fact remains that asset inequality dwarfs income inequality worldwide. In the United States, for every one dollar in net worth of a household headed by a male, a female-headed household has less than 40 cents. For every one dollar in net worth of a household headed by a white adult, a minority-headed household has about six cents.
Asset building seeks fresh solutions to intergenerational poverty by focusing on public policies and programs that enable low-income working people to accumulate valuable assets. Pioneering these efforts, ours was the first corporate foundation to support a groundbreaking pilot called the American Dream Demonstration (a collaboration between the Center for Enterprise Development and the Center for Social Development) in 1997. It was the first large-scale test of Individual Development Accounts—matched savings accounts for the working poor devoted to purchasing a home, paying for college or skills training, and starting a small business.
The findings of the five-year American Dream Demonstration have powerfully influenced policies and yielded two groundbreaking insights:
- Low-income working people, when given the right incentives and support—including financial education—can and do save for long-term goals.
- Building assets has profound effects on individuals and families and enables them to plan for the future and avoid risky behavior, weather unexpected financial storms, lower their housing costs through ownership and create their own job opportunities through entrepreneurship.
Read a case study of our work with EARN, a San Francisco-based organization that helps people build assets — and better lives.