Levi's down syndrome association


Empowerment Through Employment

Unzipped Staff
Levi Strauss & Co.
November 28, 2022

Our Levi’s® store in Istanbul, Turkey, recently welcomed a new employee named Kaan who is already making a big impact with his team and customers alike. Kaan is known for his energetic nature and can be counted on to boost his team’s energy and awareness — and he even has some of the store’s customers asking for him specifically to help them. He’s also shown his team that he adapts well to change and demonstrated an eagerness to learn and develop himself, so he’s already started taking on some extra responsibilities in the sales division.

“Kaan has been working with us for five months,” said Aykut Sayin, store manager. “I am very happy to witness his growth during this period and see positive changes and energy in the team together with Kaan.”

All in all, Kaan is thriving at our store and has been a great addition to the store staff. He also happens to have Down syndrome.

Kaan joined us thanks to a partnership the local team in Turkey established with the Down Syndrome Association to help change the public’s perception of people with Down syndrome by empowering them through employment. This work is focused on a project called Employment for Independent Life, a multistep program that helps candidates throughout the end-to-end recruitment process, from preparation to integration.

Here’s how it works. Each candidate goes through the Supported Employment Job Coach Program, which is specifically designed for people with Down syndrome who want to experience business life. The candidate meets with a job coach who interviews them about their skills, aspirations and dreams and talks with the candidate’s family to discuss how they can be supportive during the process. The coach then meets with the participating company’s unit manager to identify jobs suitable for the candidate, lines up the job interview and helps the candidate prepare.

The two of them attend the interview together, and if the candidate is accepted for the role the coach assists them with the onboarding and training process alongside the hiring manager. The coach eventually steps away once the new employee is well adjusted and working independently, staying in touch with them and their family in case they need extra support.

This program has been incredibly successful for Kaan, who recently celebrated his birthday with colleagues for the first time in his life. Kaan’s family is very happy to see how actively involved he is in the store’s operations as well, and are proud to see how well he’s adjusted to this new phase of his life.

It’s also been incredibly successful for LS&Co. and the local team in Turkey — so much so that they are now planning to hire two or three more employees with Down syndrome in different stores next year. The Down Syndrome Association will, of course, continue to be involved in the recruitment process.

“We are immensely proud to be partnering the Down Syndrome Associate on such a meaningful cause, and it has been heartwarming to witness how our consumers have been responding positively to their interactions with Kaan,” said Murat Guneysu, General Manager, Turkey. “We look forward to expanding this program in more of our stores across Turkey in the coming months.”

To learn more about Kaan’s journey, watch this brief video.