Though Levi Strauss & Co. is a vocal ally for diversity and equality, the Black Lives Matter movement is driving the company to reevaluate its racial makeup.
In a recent blog post, the company acknowledged that it is not hiring enough black employees and has too few black people in positions to make hiring decisions.
In an initial step to be more transparent about the progress that needs to take place, LS&Co. published the company’s demographic representation data last week in a diversity and inclusion report that sheds light on the diversity of its global workforce.
“We know that businesses are stronger and more successful when they are diverse. We are committed to building an organization that better reflects the communities we work in and serve,” LS&Co. stated in the report.
The data shows that LS&Co.’s overall global workforce skews female, as 57 percent of its workforce are women. Women make up 55 percent of the company’s corporate division and 58 percent of its retail segment.
Since 2018, the company’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy has focused on creating an inclusive culture, furthering women in leadership, recruiting diverse candidates and ensuring pay equity.
The majority of management positions, however, are fulfilled by men. Males make up 59 percent of leadership positions, which LS&Co. defines as the top 250 leaders in the company. Men fulfill 56 percent of executive management positions and 67 percent of LS&Co.’s board of directors.
Among these management roles, an overwhelming majority are filled by individuals who identify as white. Data shows that LS&Co.’s leadership team is 73 percent white, 16 percent Asian and 6 percent Latinx. Black/African-American employees represent just 2 percent of the leadership workforce.
LS& Co.’s executive management and board of directors are even less diverse. The company’s executive team is 81 percent white, 13 percent Asian and 6 percent Latinx. The board of directors is 83 percent white, 8 percent Asian and 8 percent Latinx.
In the report, Levi’s stated: “The reality is we need to do more. We pride ourselves on being a progressive company that takes bold stances to promote equity, justice and inclusivity all around the world, but we must ensure that we live these same principles within our organization to be our very best.”
The report echoes recent statements by LS&Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh, who pledged to “do more” and “hire, support, promote and elevate diversity” in a recent open letter to employees.
“Change will not occur unless we hold ourselves accountable,” he wrote.
Moving forward, Bergh said the company will publish annual updates on employee demographics and diversity statistics, publish wage equity audits every other year and search for a black leader to join LS&Co.’s board of directors.
More change will also take place in the company’s hiring processes. LS&Co. aims to have black, Latinx, Asian or other minority representatives make up half of interviewees for open positions, and will continue to partner with historically black colleges and universities and diverse campus organizations to increase recruiting efforts with underrepresented populations.
“Saying that we stand for equality and that we reject all forms of racism is a start, for sure. But unless we put our words into action and commit to measurable progress, history has proved that we will not get very far,” Bergh wrote.