On the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Levi’s Terms of Engagement supplier code of conduct, the denim behemoth is marking the occasion with new goals. The brand has tasked itself with producing 80 percent of its merchandise in what it calls Worker Well-being factories by 2020, which will impact 200,000 workers. And by 2025, Levi’s wants to roll out the program with key vendors to cover 300,000 workers worldwide.
The denim company is also making big efforts in transparency and to share its best practices with other apparel companies, making information from the Worker Well-being initiative publicly available. Levi’s hopes this open-source approach will broaden the program’s impact and reach.
“We believe the Worker Well-being program will serve as a catalyst to transform the industry by setting a new standard for valuing and investing in apparel workers lives,” said Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss.
Launched in 2011, the Levi’s worker program began investing in programs that would ensure basic labor rights and that environmental standards were being met by the company’s supplier facilities. The company worked directly with their suppliers’ workers to find out how the company can directly better their workers’ lives and working conditions.
“Listening to workers first is a critical component to the success of Worker Well-being,” said Michael Kobori, vice president of sustainability at Levi’s, “especially as a company that operates in multiple countries. The needs of workers in Sri Lanka may be vastly different than those in Mexico. We want to ensure that the programs we are supporting are valuable. There is no one-size-fits-all in our supply chain.”
Levi’s efforts to create healthier and more engaged employees has led to contributions to the company’s bottom line through more productive employees, reduced absenteeism and less employee turnover.
Twenty-five years ago, the historic denim brand decided to get serious about apparel worker rights, dedicating time and resources to the needs of supply chain workers. This initiative produced its Terms of Engagement code, which focuses on seven key pillars: eradicating extreme hunger, promoting women’s rights, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, ensuring environmental sustainability, and combating HIV/Aids and other deadly diseases.