Jamila Hubbard kicked off her career with Levi Strauss & Co. as a product development assistant on Levi’s® Boy’s Bottoms back in September 2008. Since then, she’s taken an unconventional path — from Boys Bottoms to Product Lifecyle Management where she trained others on a new tool — to her current role as a senior manager with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team. It’s this work that now fuels her passion and has come along with deserved recognition.
This year, Jamila was recognized internally with a new award created in honor of our late colleague Meeta Bharvani, who was a fearless advocate for the underrepresented and creator of “I Shape My World,” which inspired powerful changes within our LS&Co. community. Jamila has captured Meeta’s spirit in many ways, whether it be by helping raise up marginalized voices here at the company or through her work with our Project Onyx Black Employee Resource Group advocating for social justice issues.
“One of the reasons I’ve stayed so long at LS&Co., in addition to the amazing friends and colleagues I’ve had, is because I’ve been able to explore different avenues in my career and seek out what motivates, engages and excites me the most,” Jamila said.
We sat down with Jamila to talk about her job and what drives her to bring her best self to work every day.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is being someone who people trust and who they can speak to openly. For many, working in a corporate environment means having to cover parts of who you are in order to fit into the culture. I like to know that I am having a positive impact on people and they feel like they can be themselves in conversation with me.
What are some of the biggest challenges you and your team have faced?
For me, the biggest challenge is to find time to separate the work from myself. It’s very emotionally draining to share certain stories or be that emotional support for others, to push for change in a system and a society that are still catching up. We’re a small team; there’s only so much four people can do, and there’s a lot to get done.
Your recent Meeta Award win came with a $10,000 spot grant to donate toward any nonprofit organization of your choice. Which nonprofit are you choosing and why?
I am splitting my donation between two organizations: Roots Community Health Clinic and East Oakland Collective. Both organizations have a mission of empowering a community. They don’t just provide immediate services, but also work to create long term impact with and within the community.
Why is it so important that we here at LS&Co. advocate for marginalized voices?
I believe it’s on all of us to advocate for others at all levels in our communities. We are the community; we are the collective. We all have to use whatever privileges we have to create the best world we can. From the average person helping a stranger at the grocery store reach something on the top shelf (maybe that’s just me) to a corporation using its platform to amplify the voices of those who don’t have the access — It’s imperative that we all play a role. Because if not us, then who?
I think we often forget that this isn’t a zero-sum game where there’s only enough (food, wealth, resources, etc.) for a select few people. In one of her most famous speeches, Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Now, we’ve got to have some changes in this country. And not only changes for the Black man, and only changes for the Black woman, but the changes we have to have in this country are going to be for liberation of all people — because nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”