We’ve been sharing a series of blog posts about the importance of intentional branding for inclusivity and diversity. The year 2020 saw an uprise of the Black Lives Matter movement, fueled by attention and outrage over the police murder of George Floyd and countless more incidents of racially-fueled institutionalized racism.
As the movement intensified, and the media spotlighted systemic racism, some businesses began taking a stand and sharing messages on the subject. More and more brands realized that racism is everyone’s problem and there’s an onus on all of us, especially those companies with large platforms, to intentionally be inclusive. Some companies are doing well with this inclusion intentionality in their branding. One such company is Levi Strauss & Co.
The clothing company, Levi Strauss & Co is an American-based brand widely known for their denim wear. With massive influence on retail and fashion and over 2800 stores worldwide, they set trends and influence the retail market. A brand like Levi’s has an opportunity to use its brand voice to intentionally spread anti-racism messages and put inclusivity at the forefront of their market approach. And that’s exactly what they have done this year. But their approach was risky. Like many big retailers, their company structure did not reflect diversity. And rather than try to hide that, they acknowledged publicly.
In a post on their blog, Levi’s shared the racial makeup of its company, being 37% white, 28% Hispanic/Latin American, 18% African-American, Asian 10%, Two or more races 3%, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 1%, American Indian or Alaskan Native 1%.
But they didn’t just share the statistics. They went further to state the following: “… a cursory examination reveals a tiered system within our company: Black people make up only 5% of our corporate staff, and Black representation plummets at each level of our corporate structure. Ten percent of our contributors — employees who aren’t managers — are Black or African-American. Less than 2% of our executive level is Black. We have no Black employees on the Global Leadership Team. And no Black board members.” In releasing these statements, they recognized their blatant disparity and inequality in-house.
What, If Anything, Is Levi’s Doing About Its In-House Racial Disparity and Lack of Diversity?
Here’s just a snippet of what they’ve done so far:
“We’re committed to supporting equality issues, like LGBTQ+ rights, immigration and DACA, the FAMILY Act and others. We’ve partnered with Rock the Vote to increase voter registration. In response to George Floyd’s death and the ensuing protests, Levi Strauss & Co. donated $100,000 to the ACLU. The Levi Strauss Foundation also gave $100,000 to LIVE FREE, an organization led by Pastor Mike McBride to curb gun violence and promote racial and economic justice. “
- Over the last five years, they’ve invested more than $37 million in varying organizations that promote social justice.
- They’ve launched 12 employee resource groups across the States, tasked with gaining a collective understanding of black issues.
- Since 2017, they’ve ramped up employment recruitment from HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities).
- Made the African-American holiday Juneteeth a paid day off for employees to celebrate the annual holiday.
Now, It’s Your Turn. What Can You Do?
We’re sharing mini case studies to inspire your own intentional inclusive branding efforts. By sharing the stories of companies who are doing it, we hope it gives ideas and insights for how you might also embrace inclusion and diversity.
You don’t have to be a massive company like Levi & Strauss, but you can follow in their example and find your own ways to ensure your internal and external business practices and branding are intentionally inclusive and diverse.