Levi Strauss and Co. announced that it has launched a series of initiatives to support organizations and people in favor of gun control.
In a piece written in Fortune by Levi's president and chief executive Chip Bergh, he addressed his company’s unwillingness to stand silent on the hotly-debated issue. It was a follow-up to a letter he sent to his employees after a patron accidentally shot himself while trying on a pair of jeans.
“In the days after I published that letter,” Bergh said, “I received threats to our stores, our business, and even on my life. It was unsettling.”
Those letters, he said, couldn’t compare to the threats received by survivors of the mass shootings before and after that incident, notably those from Sandy Hook, Aurora, and in Parkland.
As a result, the brand first announced the launch of the Safe Tomorrow Fund, that has earmarked $1m to fund non-profits and youth activists working to end gun violence. Levis has also joined Michael Bloomberg’s newly built Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety.
The third measure: a double match to employee donations to causes and organizations similar to the Safe Tomorrow Fund, and expanding their community service allowance to include political activism.
“As president and CEO of a values-driven company,” Bergh, previously an Army captain, said, “I take the responsibility of speaking up on the important issues of our day very seriously. We can’t take on every issue. But 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.
“While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”
Levi’s, which has had a history of standing up for equality and social issues in the past, now joins a list of companies like Dick's Sporting Goods and others that have either banned products from their stores or distanced themselves from gun manufacturers and the NRA.
The announcement also comes not too long after Nike stepped forward as a company in support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by extending his endorsement deal and making him the face of their 30th anniversary Just Do It campaign.