By the time then-COO Bob Haas and other top LS&Co. leaders took to company headquarters to distribute informational pamphlets to employees, the disease had just been given a name – AIDS.
It was 1982, a mere year after the CDC identified the mysterious infection claiming the lives of primarily gay men as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. There was still much to be learned about the disease and its effects, but Levi Strauss & Co. did not wait to take action; instead the company stepped up to address the issue head on. And we’ve been fighting ever since.
Today is World AIDS Day — an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with the disease and commemorate those who have died. At LS&Co., it’s a chance for all of us to reflect upon the company’s history of progressive leadership in addressing HIV/AIDS, and how we plan to remain on the frontline of this ongoing battle moving forward.
Since the early 1980s, LS&Co. has been committed to addressing HIV/AIDS in the workplace. The company’s Worldwide HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy supports HIV-positive employees and their families by providing HIV education, fighting stigma and discrimination on the job and providing treatment and care, including a free 24/7 HIV information and resource telephone line for employees and their families in the U.S. We also provide annual HIV education to employees worldwide in an effort to reinforce our commitment to increasing awareness and providing support to our employees.
Additionally, LS&Co. is the longest continuous corporate supporter in the fight against HIV/AIDS, with more than $70 million granted globally to date through the Levi Strauss Foundation. The foundation was also just recognized by the Treatment Action Group (TAG) for its efforts to fight the epidemic.
Today, our employees are active in efforts to improve the lives of those living with HIV, whether through volunteering, raising awareness and organizing fundraisers. LS&Co.’s employee led AIDS Action Group, for example, helps to organize participation and fundraising for the annual San Francisco AIDS Walk.
It is important that we continue to educate and reduce the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, as it is a global issue that affects many of our communities around the world. Now more than ever we must continue to raise our hands, get involved and be advocates and ambassadors for our commitment in ending this epidemic.