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Levi’s Calls for BIPOC Women to Join New Social Justice Cohort

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The Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) is searching for a new group of social justice leaders to join its Pioneers in Justice initiative. Established a decade ago, the program aims to empower and support emerging social justice leaders in their fight for systemic change.

Through March 19, LSF will accept nominations for the program’s third cohort, which will focus on women and femme-identified Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders, including trans and nonbinary individuals—a group that is notoriously overlooked for funding or leadership positions. Through the program, LSF aims to shift the dynamic and provide more opportunities for this demographic. The program will run through 2023.

According to LSF, the benefits of the initiative are two-fold. “Yes, we’ve helped the leaders in the initiative strengthen their voices, reach new audiences and elevate their ability to lead today’s movements,” it said in a statement. “But in turn, they have improved our ability as a foundation and a company to deliver on our core values: empathy, integrity, originality and courage.”

The first cohort of activists established in 2010 included five leaders of color within established Bay Area civil rights organizations. In 2015, the foundation introduced a second cohort that included seven activists dedicated to promoting gender equality, climate change, criminal justice, LGBTQ+ rights, racial equity, immigrant rights and gun violence.

“Through the Pioneers initiative we’ve learned that partnering with movement leaders is not a top-down process, but rather a side-by-side effort, with learning and influence flowing both ways. It calls for uncomfortable candor, radical empathy and a kind of flexibility not often practiced in corporate philanthropy,” the foundation stated.

Levi’s is often at the helm of progressive initiatives, having racially integrated its factories in the 1940s—long before the legal mandate—and becoming the first Fortune 500 company to offer domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. Its more recent goals for diversity and inclusion have been equally advanced. Levi’s pledged to publish annual updates on employee demographics and diversity statistics, publish wage equity audits every other year, and search for a Black leader to join its board of directors.

At the end of 2020, Levi’s appointed a person of color to its board and hired a chief diversity, inclusion and belonging officer.

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