Anna Walker, manager of government affairs and public policy, presented business practices at Levi Strauss. Levi’s was founded in 1853 by Bavarian immigrant Levi Strauss who had a dry goods store and was servicing the “49’ers” mining gold in the Sierra Nevada and brought us the iconic jean. The company has grown to 11,000
employees around the world, 1,500 of whom are atits headquarters in San Francisco. The company had revenues in 2008 of about $4.4 billion and its brands are the Levi Strauss brands, the Dockers brand, and Signature by Levi Strauss and Company, which are sold in Target and Walmart.
The company is privately held by the descendents of Levi Strauss and remains a values-based company drawing on the values of its founder, which are empathy,originality, integrity, and courage. Levi Strauss started the tradition of corporate responsibility within the company when he founded it 156 years ago. As an immigrant in San Francisco as it was growing and developing, he was already giving grants, providing philanthropy in the community as a small, new businessman. Building on that example, the company continued a tradition of philanthropy and engagingwith the local community. When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake hit, the company’s headquarters were destroyed, but there was a commitment to keep the employees on, and the company continued to pay all the employees and put them to work refurbishing the floor in the local facility just to keep them busy and occupied and on the payroll as the company rebuilt its headquarters. In the 1940s, LeviStrauss’s racially integrated its sewing facilities in the United States. In the 1980s the company was the first multinational company to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace. The company has made a commitment to provide prevention, care, and treatment to all employees globally.
Levi Strauss is the world’s largest brand-name apparel maker with sales in more than 110 countries around the world.10Combining direct factories with its licensed factories, there are about 800 factories in 50 countries. Levi Strauss was the first multinational company to start a code of conduct, in 1991.11 The code was actually motivated internally by the company’s employees. Levi Strauss’s publishes its factory list in an effort to be transparent, 12 and has been an advocate since 2000 for the linkage of trade andlabor in U.S. trade agreements.
Levi Strauss & Co. Global Sourcing and Operating Guidelines
Use of child labor is not permissible. Workers can be no less than 15 years of age and not younger than the compulsory age to be in school. We will not utilize partners who use child labor in any of their facilities. We support the development of legitimate workplaceapprenticeship programs for the educational benefit of younger people.
Prison Labor/Forced Labor
We will not utilize prison or forced labor in contracting relationships in the manufacture and finishing of our products. We will not utilize or purchase materials from a business partner utilizing prison or forced labor.
Ms. Walker noted that the code of conduct outlines the labor and environmentalconditions Levi’s expects to see in its contract facilities around the world. It is based on the universal declaration of human rights and ILO labor conventions. The code is a living document, which has evolved over time. Levi’s has a staff of 45 employees that are dedicated to the monitoring, remediation, and capacity building associated with the code and an additional group of third-party monitorssupporting that team.
The child labor component within the code is consistent with the ILO’s minimum age convention and convention on the worst forms of child labor. It is considered to be a zero- tolerance issue. If Levi’s finds in its initial assessment of a facility that there is child labor, Levi Strauss cannot enter that facility until the situation is remediated. If Levi’s has already been...