Levi’s is expanding upon its promise to improve the lives of the workers who make its jeans.
During a chat at the 2016 Fashion Technology Forum in Brooklyn, NY, Levi’s President and CEO Chip Bergh announced the expansion of the company’s worker well-being program, which launched in 2011 with the intention of creating a more sustainable and humane supply chain.
First piloted at five plants, Levi’s plans to roll out the well-being program to its entire supply chain over the next decade, affecting some 300,000 of its workers. The program currently reaches about 100,000 of its workers in countries like India, Bangladesh, Egypt and Haiti.
Through the program, Levi’s partners with factory owners to help improve the lives of workers. This includes initiatives aimed at improving women’s health and bolstering financial literacy among employees.
According to Bergh, the program thus far has been a success, resulting in lower absenteeism and higher worker retention, saving the company money. For every dollar invested in worker well-being, there is a $4 return on investment, said Bergh.
Hoping to affect change not just at its own factories, but in the industry at large, Levi’s also announced it would be opening up its worker-well being program with a new open source platform that other companies can use. Through a partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Levi’s plans to build a template that can be used by companies in any industry, as well as a dashboard that factory owners can use to track the progress of the program.
“We fundamentally believe we have to do the right thing. We believe where we lead, others will follow,” said Bergh. “We could try to keep it as a competitive advantage, but there’s a much bigger advantage to opening things up [to everyone].”