Levi Strauss & Co Just Took a Major Stand In Support of Gun Violence Prevention

“As business leaders with power in the public and political arenas, we simply cannot stand by silently [...]"

Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO Chip Berg is taking a stand in the gun control debate. On Tuesday, the leader of one of the world's most famous denim companies announced a three-part plan to provide support for gun violence prevention over the course of the next few years. 

 "As business leaders with power in the public and political arenas, we simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work," the CEO wrote in a new piece for Fortune. "While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option."

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The company has already established the Safety Tomorrow Fund, which will provide over  $1 million in grants over the next four years to nonprofits working to stop gun violence in the United States. Some of the organizations it's already granted funds to include Live Free, Giffords, and Everytown for Gun Safety.  

The company has also partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety and politicians, like Michael Bloomberg, to form Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety. As outlined in Berg's announcement, the coalition brings together business leaders who believe corporations can  play a pivotal role in battling gun violence. 

Finally, Levi Strauss is encouraging employees to take action against gun violence by getting involved themselves. The company is offering to double its donation match when workers contribute to organizations supported by the Safer Tomorrow Fund. It's also expanded its volunteer policy so that employees can get paid for participating in up to five hours of political activism per month.

"You may wonder why a company that doesn't manufacture or sell guns is wading into this issue, but for us, it's simple," Berg stated. "Americans shouldn't have to live in fear of gun violence. It's an issue that affects all of us—all generations and all walks of life."

This isn't the first time that Berg has taken a stance in the gun control debate. In 2016, he wrote an open letter to gun owners asking them not to bring firearms into the company's stores or offices, even where permitted by law. The request came shortly after a customer accidentally shot and injured himself while trying on a pair of jeans in a Levi Strauss store. 

The CEO reveals to Fortune that he received personal attacks in the wake of that letter, but remains motivated to take action against gun violence — especially in lieu of recent headlines. "These personal attacks pale in comparison to the threats that activists and survivors from Parkland, Sandy Hook, and daily incidents of gun violence face every time they speak up on this issue," he wrote. 

While some may have qualms about an apparel line joining one of the nation's most contentious debates, corporations have become increasingly vocal champions of gun control in recent months. Earlier this year, Dick's Sporting Goods, Walmart, and Kroger Co. all banned gun sales to customers under 21. According to the LA Times, more than a dozen companies, including L.L. Bean, Enterprise Rent a Car, and Delta Airlines, also ended their discount programs with the NRA. 

Now, Levi Strauss has become the latest retailer to press for gun restrictions in 2018. "As an iconic global company, we know that what we say and do matters," the company's website reads. "No single activist, organization or lawmaker is going to reverse this trajectory. It's going to take an entire nation standing up and demanding change. And the business community plays an important role."  

Cover image via  TY Lim I Shutterstock

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