Former top Levi's exec says woke corporations motivated by profit more than principle

"It is a cynical attempt to profit off of the activism of Gen Z and millennials," said former Levi's Brand President Jennifer Sey.

Updated: December 3, 2022 - 12:19am

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While many big name corporations have embraced liberal viewpoints in commercials and marketing, a former brand president says it's mostly done to attract money from young consumers and not for principle. 

In an interview Thursday, former Levi's Brand President Jennifer Sey recounted to Just the News how woke activists in corporate America pushed her out of her job when she, as a mother with kids in public schools, decided to speak out against pandemic school closures. 

Sey spent 23 years at Levi's, where she worked her way up from an entry-level marketing assistant to brand president. She was in line to be CEO, until she emerged as an outspoken critic of the COVID school shutdowns in 2020. 

"I was told repeatedly throughout the course of my final two years that I needed to stop," Sey said Thursday on the "Just the News, No Noise" TV show. "I was told I shouldn't say these things. I was dangerous. It was even acknowledged at certain points by some of my peers that they agreed with me, but I shouldn't say them anyway. That was just not okay with me. Meanwhile, my peers were all sending their kids back to private school in person."

In her book, "Levi's Unbuttoned: The Woke Mob Took My Job but Gave Me My Voice," Sey says that speaking out against the school closures resulted in Levi's employees calling her "anti-trans," "anti-fat" and "racist." By January 2022, she was told there was no longer a place for her at the company. 

Increasingly, major corporations tout their commitment to social justice to pander to the woke crowd, Sey told "Just the News, No Noise" cohosts John Solomon and Amanda Head, citing examples such as companies changing their logo to a rainbow flag during Pride Month or posting a black square to show support for the Black Lives Matter protests. But the gestures of solidarity are driven by profit more than principle, according to Sey.

"There's two things going on with what I call 'woke capitalism,' and I go into some detail in the book," said Sey. "It is a cynical attempt to profit off of the activism of Gen Z and millennials. That's really really what it is. It is also an attempt to sort of cloak these executives in this altruistic stance to shield them from scrutiny."

Sey pointed out the hypocrisy of Sam Bankman-Fried, who recently declared bankruptcy after "at least a billion dollars of customer funds" vanished from his cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to an estimate reported by Reuters. The sudden collapse of FTX exposed its links to an array of progressive causes, leading Democrats and Washington insiders through an intricate web of donations and connections. 

"He's speaking today on the stage of the New York Times DealBook Summit," Sey noted. "Meanwhile, I'm considered unemployable because I spoke up on behalf of children. But he cloaked himself in this woke pose, and he gave all kinds of money to liberal causes. Despite the fact that he's stolen billions of dollars, he's still invited to speak on the stage. How does that make sense?"

Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz says that diversity hiring is another concession that woke workplaces make to the left that is motivated more by opportunism than idealism.

"It has a lot to do with this phony quest for diversity because the people who want diversity — what they want is proportional representation," Dershowitz told "Just the News, No Noise" on Wednesday. "So if African Americans are 13% of the population, they want 13% of the people hired to be black. Diversity is a phony concept. All it means is whatever you are, you want more of. You want more liberals, you want more African Americans, you want more whatever it is. It has nothing to do with diversity. Diversity is a simple cover for 'We want more of us.'"