Clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co. has a program that provides emergency financial assistance to all of its employees and retirees. The Red Tab Foundation, named for the familiar tag found on the rear pocket of the company’s blue jeans, offers money to employees who need immediate help to pay for things like funeral costs, emergency car or home repairs, or shelter from a violent spouse.
Executive director Ann Ure says the foundation is a public charity co-funded by contributions from Levi employees, executives and board members. Unexpected financial need is a primary criterion for eligibility, so the majority of grant recipients are hourly wage earners and retirees living on fixed incomes.
By its existence, the foundation gives Levi employees a sense that there is a financial safety net, Ure says. "Employees see it as a bridge between paychecks when an emergency occurs." From 300 to 900 Levi employees and retirees apply each year for grants, which average $1,000. Eighty percent of the requests are approved. Payment is made directly to those who provide services to the employee.
"It’s really employee helping employee," Ure says. "It’s a philanthropic endeavor. We’d like to think the foundation is an example of the corporate culture here."
The foundation was started by a former Levi vice president who began working at company headquarters in San Francisco as a stock boy right out of high school. He worked his way up through the organization and launched the program in 1981, when he retired. More recently, Red Tab established another initiative, a "money school" to help employees make more informed financial decisions.
Workforce Management, August 2004, p. 49 -- Subscribe Now!