Jennifer Sey, now ex-global brand president at Levi Strauss & Co. resigned from the position due to her voicing of opinion on COVID-19 topics. After sharing her views publicly, Sey received numerous cold shoulders and pushback from her colleagues and even on social media.
Sey voiced her opinion that schools should remain open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and although Levi’s is an open book when it comes to taking a political stance, many people did not like how Sey was speaking on the situation. The company offered Sey a $1 million severance package where all she needed to do was sign a nondisclosure agreement. In this case, the company was asking for her silence in order to remain at the company.
Jennifer Sey has been at Levi’s since 1999, where she always felt comfortable enough to be her complete self, even if it meant sharing her political views. Sey stated in an essay published on Substack, that after stating her opinion on the school closures during a pandemic, she felt pressured by the HR and legal team at Levi’s to silence her opinions.
In an interview with Glossy, Sey said “It’s easy to say, ‘be authentic’ or ‘stand up for what you believe in,’ but it isn’t actually easy to do.” With so much going on in the world, it is a very difficult time when it comes to sharing and expressing your beliefs. Being an advocate for a certain topic or cause has resulted in resignations/terminations, which is extremely unfortunate.
Sey had been through a lot before she decided to officially resign. From cyberbullying to name-calling, to threats, she heard it all from social media bots, fans of Levi’s, and even colleagues themselves. Sey raises an important perspective in her essay, she states “in this, it is like so many other American companies: held hostage by intolerant ideologues who do not believe in genuine inclusion or diversity.”
In a situation like this, a lot of ethical and political questions arise but what is truly inspiring is Jennifer Sey’s determination to keep her voice. No amount of money or contracts would have silenced her. When looking at the other side of the image, if Sey would have been silenced with money, she would have let this corporation have control over who she is and what she stands for.
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