Levi's Is Taking A Stand Against Gun Violence

by: Lucy Jones | 2 months ago | News

Gun violence protestors. Image Source.

Levi's has always been a socially conscious company. Over the years, the iconic denim brand has campaigned for waste reduction in the fashion industry, gay rights and improved conditions for workers.

Levi's desegregated its factories in the 1940s, enabling black and white employees to work together four years before the Civil Rights Act was passed. When the HIV/AIDS crisis hit in the 1980s, the company started donating funds to sexual health education. Over the past three decades Levi's has contributed over $60 million to HIV/AIDS organisations in over 40 countries. The company also released an industry-defining code of conduct that included specific protections for workers rights and the environment over 25 years ago. Now, Levi's is taking a stand against gun violence.

Levi's CEO and President Chip Bergh announced an ambitious plan to end gun violence in a new op-ed for Fortune

“We can’t take on every issue”, he wrote. “But as business leaders with power in the public and political arenas, we simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to issues that threaten the very fabric of the community where we live and work. While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”

Bergh has spoken out against gun violence in the past. In 2016, after a gun accidentally went off in a Levi's store, Bergh published an open letter that asked gun owners not to carry firearms in Levi's stores.

"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," he wrote.

Since then, the gun safety debate has escalated significantly. There have already been 245 mass shootings in America so far this year. It is estimated that 96 Americans are killed every day by gun violence and hundreds more are injured. In March this year, a group of students from Parkland, Florida embarked on a campaign to end gun violence after a shooting claimed 17 lives at their school. Levi's will be supporting these young activits and others like them by donating over $1 million to organisations fighting gun violence over the next four years through their Safer Tomorrow Fund. They are also partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety and business leaders to form a coalition of businesses against gun violence. In addition to these initiatives, Levi's will encourage employees to use their five hours a month in paid volunteer time to help gun safety groups.

"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," Bergh wrote. "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."

Read the Levi's plan to end gun violence in full here.

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