The CEO of Levi Strauss, Chip Bergh, recently gave an interview to CNBC. In and of itself, that’s not really a very big deal. After all, CNBC is the network’s business offshoot and Bergh is the CEO of a well-known apparel company. It stands to reason that he’d get interviewed.
Of course, one of the topics was his company’s–read as his–decision to start funneling money toward gun control groups.
Among the investor community, ahead of the initial public offering that Bergh oversaw earlier this year, the biggest fear was on the flip side — that values would get in the way of profits. Bergh made it clear to investors that the company would not be reticent to take a stand on important social issues, such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Bergh said gun control was a trickier issue for the company because it did not have a history of taking a stance. “We have an established framework with the board on issues we will take a stand on … but gun control was new one and it was the Parkland shooting that got to the tipping point and felt we needed to take a stand.”
Bergh then held up his experience as an Army officer and argued that he knows what these weapons do to people, as if that should somehow shield him from criticism rather than paint him as an oathbreaker.
Look, I get what he’s saying, though. I really do.
I get that there’s pressure out there for companies to make stands on so-called social issues. I understand that there’s this idea among younger consumers that companies have to make political stands as well as offer quality products and a price the market can bear.
That doesn’t absolve him of his sins, though.
For one, plenty of other companies are making no such effort. They’re simply operating as they have been and making money doing so.
Additionally, there are a lot of social issues out there that are a lot less controversial than gun control. For example, Bergh could have used that same money to help fund programs to combat homelessness in this country. Remember when that was the issue du jour among the elite? Now they don’t give two spits about the people living on the streets.
Or what about helping to fight the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging so much of this country?
Now, I’m not saying Levi Strauss has to do any of those things. Absolutely not. In fact, I’m perfectly fine with a company opting to make no stands politically. I prefer it, actually.
But if Bergh is going to try to pretend that his opposition to the Second Amendment–and I don’t care what he claims, he made a stand against the Second Amendment–was a business decision on any level, he needs to be called on his BS. It wasn’t and nothing he can say will change that fact. This is a matter of him and his board of directors wanting to stand for gun control and to virtue signal hard in the process.
Had it simply been about making social stands, there are a lot of ways to have done that. Even if they had to be political stands, there are plenty out there.
No, they made a stand against our gun rights.
As a result, a lot of gun rights supporters–people who grew up wearing Levis and have drawers full of jeans–aren’t going to look at those products ever again.
Now, it’s possible that Levi Strauss won’t even notice we’re gone. Those younger buyers may pick up the slack and they never miss a thing from us. However, they need to realize the fickle nature of the social justice consumer. It’s only a matter of time before someone makes a donation the masses don’t like or says something taken the wrong way, then everything Bergh has done can be undone in an instant.
Yet they’ll have also burned their bridges with those who otherwise wouldn’t have cared.
So no, I don’t buy that this was a business decision on any level. This was about Bergh wanting to make sure he got invited to the right parties or other such nonsense.
When the masses turn on him, though, it’ll be hilarious. After all, he’s still a corporate CEO making more than $500,000 a year in salary. It’s only a matter of time before they do it and we just get to sit here and laugh.