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Levi’s promises to fight against controversial new voting laws

Jeans are the most democratic garment in our closet, worn by presidents and Amazon workers, tech nerds and suburban moms, Albert Einstein and Bruce Springsteen. And Levi’s, with their history of outfitting working class heroes––cowboys, lumberjacks, railroad workers––in search of their own American Dream, are arguably the most democratic of denims. The company has existed for almost 180 years, through slavery and Jim Crow. During World War II Levi’s were designated “staple work clothing” according to the War Production Board to be sold exclusively to those engaged in the war effort. Now, Chip Bergh, President and CEO Levi Strauss & Co, is on a crusade to ensure democracy prevails in the United States.

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Jeans are the most democratic garment in our closet, worn by presidents and Amazon workers, tech nerds and suburban moms, Albert Einstein and Bruce Springsteen. And Levi’s, with their history of outfitting working class heroes––cowboys, lumberjacks, railroad workers––in search of their own American Dream, are arguably the most democratic of denims. The company has existed for almost 180 years, through slavery and Jim Crow. During World War II Levi’s were designated “staple work clothing” according to the War Production Board to be sold exclusively to those engaged in the war effort. Now, Chip Bergh, President and CEO Levi Strauss & Co, is on a crusade to ensure democracy prevails in the United States.

Bergh is fighting against Georgia’s controversial new voting laws which many argue will make it significantly more difficult for voters in black and brown communities to access the polls, versions of which are also being proposed in as many as 45 other states. “These bills aren’t only racist, they represent a significant step backward for us here in the US,” Bergh said in a statement.

Levi’s has some of its largest operations in Republican-held states such as Texas, Florida, Kentucky, but Bergh will work with legislature in these states to ensure these laws do not pass. Appearing on Friday’s CNN Newsroom, Bergh promised, “We have put our money where our mouth is.” In 2020, the Levi Strauss Foundation donated over 3 million dollars to various states, of which over 10 percent went to Georgia specifically to work with non-profit organizations committed to ensuring safe and equal access to the polls.

Voting continues to be a hard-fought right for many Americans, and Bergh described these bills as a “backlash against the record voter turnout in 2020 and the baseless false narrative of voter fraud.”

Corporations now expected to take political stand

The high-profile nature of companies such as Levi’s throwing their hat into the political ring raises again the question of the role of corporations in society, and how involved CEOs should be in matters beyond their own bottom line. Delta and Lyft are among other corporations strongly condemning the laws. Bergh, who also received death threats for his previous stance on gun control, lives by the motto, “Always do the harder right, not the easier wrong.”

President Biden has said it is “reassuring” to see companies speaking up against the Georgia law while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened there will be consequences, adding, “It’s quite stupid to jump in the middle of a highly controversial issue.” Former President Donald Trump has urged the American public to boycott such companies.

The role of CEOs has changed dramatically during Bergh’s decade in the role. In 2019, the Business Roundtable, a non-profit organization of 181 CEOs of America’s largest corporations, overturned their 22-year old policy, releasing a new statement pushing corporate leaders to prioritize value for all stakeholders, not just the C-suite. In the case of Levi’s this includes a global employee base, diverse team, communities and consumers in 110 countries. Speaking with CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Bergh said, “A big part of the reason we’ve been around for 180 years is we have not been afraid to take a position on issues that are really important, and not been afraid to stick our neck out.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soorty launches organic cotton initiative

Soorty launches organic cotton initiative

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Apr 6, 2021

Pakistan’s largest vertically integrated denim company, Soorty has launched an organic cotton initiative in partnership with WWF Pakistan and the Department of Agriculture Extension, Balochistan, along with support and input from the Laudes Foundation.

The Soorty Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI) aims to create an “organic cotton revolution” explains Soorty in a statement, and comes as consumers preference for responsibly and ethically sourced products becomes the norm.

Denim it adds is “undergoing a profound revolution” and this new sustainable initiative is Soorty’s way of working with farmers from the district of Balochistan to transform their smallholding into exclusively organic farmlands over the long term.

It is much more than just organic farming, adds Soorty, but as a project for “community uplift”.

“SOCI goes beyond just cultivating organic cotton,” explains Asad Soorty, director at Soorty Enterprises in a statement. “SOCI is about uplifting the farming families of this deprived region through higher income, better schooling and access to professional health services. It’s about transforming the way cotton buying is conducted, by creating a blockchain-based transparent digital marketplace and traceability mechanism. This is our first foray into farming, and we’re excited by the possibilities in front of us.”

Soorty looking to cultivate more organic cotton and support farming communities

Soorty launches organic cotton initiative

The first project to be implemented in the region is at Nall, a sub-division of Khuzdar District of Balochistan, almost 300 kilometres from the provincial capital, Quetta City. People from this largely rural region rely heavily on income from agriculture and husbandry to survive and basic government services like education, health and utilities are practically absent, adds Soorty.

Its organic initiative will bring an area of approximately 7,000 acres under organic cultivation producing over 17,000 metric tons of seed cotton and 6,000 metric tons of cotton lint over the next four years.

To ensure the integrity of the organic cotton, Soorty is also emphasising blockchain-oriented transparency, tracking and traceability of all its organic cotton along with rigorous and frequent GMO testing at every step of the chain.

SOCI will not only scale up organic cotton cultivation and help improve livelihoods of targeted underprivileged farming communities, but also develop health and education interventions to improve the quality of life for the locals.

WWF Pakistan, senior director, Dr Masood Arshad, added: “The partnership will help accelerate organic cotton cultivation and will be a model for other local textile entities as well as international brands.”

Images: courtesy of Soorty

 

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