Levi Strauss & Co. has expanded their original mission beyond the manufacture of blue jeans. This “values driven company” now feels a responsibility to “the communities where we live and work” and will now engage with other gun control groups to fight for “gun violence prevention.”
Chip Berg, CEO of Levi Strauss, wrote an open letter to his customers asking them not to bring firearms onto the premises of their stores, offices or other facilities. For him, it was a matter of safety. Of course, law enforcement was exempt from that request.
“It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings. In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.”
So, it’s clear Berg doesn’t subscribe to the theory that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Berg took it a step farther today with an op-ed in Fortune. He explained that as a leader in business “with power in the public and political arenas” he felt the responsibility to break the silence that threatens “the very fabric of the communities where we live and work.”
“So today, on top of our previous actions, Levi Strauss & Co. is lending its support for gun violence prevention in three new areas.”
The company has developed a site that outlines its gun violence prevention strategy complete with mission statements and donation match programs.
Their Safer Tomorrow Fund will direct more than $1 million dollars from Levi Strauss & Co. over four years to youth activist and nonprofit organizations who share the same goals of ending gun violence in America.
Berg announced the company is partnering with various executives and Michael Bloomberg to join forces with Every Town Business Leaders for Gun Safety.
This coalition of like minded executives “has a critical role to play in and a moral obligation to do something about the gun violence epidemic in this country. I encourage every CEO and business leader reading this to consider the impact we could make if we stood together alongside the broad coalition of concerned parents, youth, elders, veterans, and community and faith leaders who are committed to shaping a safer path forward.”
He doesn’t explain any particular plan of action for the Every Town organization other than to infer there may be some think-tank like discussions on how to end gun violence.
And the third leg of the stool involves employee participation. Levi Strauss is doubling its employee donation match to any organizations aligned with its own Safer Tomorrow Fund.
In addition to encouraging employee donations to their own foundation, they are offering to compensate any employee who wishes to volunteer time up to five hours a month. Not only can employees volunteer in their own foundations but political activism is also compensated as well.
Levi Strauss considers this compensation an encouragement to employees “to use their time to make an impact.”
Berg notes that Levi Strauss has always been on the cutting edge of progressivism ideals in company policy and some not so progressive. But he thinks this one will prove to be the right stand in history.
“As a company, we have never been afraid to take an unpopular stand to support a greater good. We integrated our factories in the American South years before the Civil Rights Act was passed. We offered benefits to same-sex partners in the 1990s, long before most companies did. We pulled our financial support for the Boy Scouts of America when it banned gay troop leaders.
“While each one of these stands may have been controversial at the time, history proved the company right in the long run. And I’m convinced that while some will disagree with our stand to end gun violence, history will prove this position right too.”
Mr. Berg, no one disagrees with your stand to end gun violence. Gun violence is a terrible thing.
We just don’t want anyone to eliminate our constitutional right to bear arms at a time when law enforcement officers can’t get to your offices, stores or factories in time to stop mass shooters who would attack innocents in a gun free zone — hypothetically of course.
Has anyone ever asked these social justice warrior business leaders why they can’t coalesce around decreasing the national debt, lowering taxes, returning to state sovereignty, or any number of other things that also “threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work?”
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