Jennifer Sey was a leading candidate to head multi-billion-dollar corporation Levi Strauss & Co., until she veered outside the acceptable Left-wing narrative on COVID policies and refused to shut up.
The well-liked liberal executive was pushed out at Levi’s in February 2022, after her vetting for CEO was derailed by social media posts and activism pushing back against school closures and mask policies for children.
Though Sey never ran into a problem with her employer for speaking out online about liberal causes or politics, the executive was encouraged numerous times to, effectively, shut-up about her views on lockdowns.
When the mother-of-four was told that she had no place at Levi’s, the company reportedly wanted Sey to stay on until they found her replacement, and to accept an exit package that included a non-disclosure agreement. She refused and left the company in February.
Now, with the release of her new book just around the corner, “Levi’s Unbuttoned: The Woke Mob Took My Job But Gave Me My Voice” (November 15, 2022), Sey isn’t about to slow down.
The Daily Wire spoke to Sey about the saga at Levi’s, COVID accountability, corporate hypocrisy, and where she now aligns politically.
Here’s Part One:
DW: Was it something specific you posted or did that first got the attention of Levi’s?
SEY: There was nothing specific for the first year. I was very tempered. I opposed playground closures and school closures. Levi’s didn’t like that because it went against the Democratic Party and the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. They first started “talking to me” about it in September 2020. I’d been posting about it since March, but it must have taken a while for anyone to notice.
My “talking to” happened just as the kids of all the other Levi’s executives were returning to private school (the private schools opened in San Francisco in Fall 2020, while public schools stayed closed for a full additional year). The hypocrisy and selfishness here are staggering. It was basically them saying to me: “You can’t advocate for the very thing that my children have!”
But when I went on (Fox News’) “Ingraham Angle” with Laura Ingraham in March 2021, it really sent everyone over the edge. I’d consorted with the “enemy” and that made me the enemy. From then on, I was considered a racist, age-ist, anti-gay, anti-trans, fat-phobic, anti-everything. I was evil because I spoke with Ingraham. That was a real turning point in terms of the vitriol directed at me from employees.
Another turning point was this tweet posted by a friend of mine, civil liberties attorney, Jenin Younes. The photo was taken at my house. Our support for (Florida Gov. Ron) Desantis — someone none of us can vote for because none of us live in Florida, so meant as a bit of a joke (like oh isn’t it funny all these former lefties support DeSantis) — was in reference to his opening of schools and limited lockdowns overall. This tweet got the attention of the Twitter mob and was often used to cite me being “anti-LGBTQ” while tagging my employer. So, this caused some trouble for me as well.
— Jenin Younes (@Leftylockdowns1) July 26, 2021
Lastly, I posted articles about the governor recall election in California in the fall of 2021. Without specifically citing my support for the recall, it was pretty clear I did not support (Gov. Gavin) Newsom.
(DW: Sey noted she was living in Denver, Colorado, at this point and, of course, barred from voting in the California recall election.)
SEY: The head of corporate communications asked me not to post about this at all because of Haas family (who are the majority shareholders of Levi Strauss & Co.) connections to the governor. To me, this says all you need to know. At work, the real issue: I went against the Democratic party. It really was discrimination based on political viewpoint.
DW: Did you at all get the sense that people supportive of lockdowns were immune to the repercussions of such policies?
SEY: Yes. They absolutely were. They could easily stay home, work from home, their jobs weren’t at risk, they could order Uber eats, watch Netflix, get their kids a learning pod or better yet, send them to private school. Their world continued and it was just fine. And they felt very morally superior for being lockdown enthusiasts and having working class people bring food to the door.
Wealthy people cheering lockdowns and, even worse, asserting moral superiority in doing so, are the least empathetic, least “progressive” type of people I can fathom. They don’t care about “equality” despite the “in this house we believe…” signs in their windows. They are selfish and entitled and they insist that they are virtuous altruists while aggressively pursuing their own perceived interests. This is what turned me away from the Democrats. The hypocrisy is so glaring and so grotesque. I can’t align myself with it.
“This is what turned me away from the Democrats. The hypocrisy is so glaring and so grotesque. I can’t align myself with it.”
DW: Did you ever expect Levi’s to defend you, after decades with the company?
SEY: I don’t know. I suppose a part of me expected a bit of “You don’t have to agree with her, but she has a right to say it.” I was really well-liked. I’d been there close to 23 years. I was kind of the embodiment of the whole company ethos/vibe. The CEO called me a “culture carrier,” meaning I furthered the culture of the company. But a part of me always knew I was doomed from the start. The San Francisco bubble is hard to explain. EVERYONE seemed to believe that the only morally defensible position was to stay home all the time, and that only a very bad person would believe otherwise.
DW: Do you think you would have been named CEO if you had shut up about COVID policy?
SEY: I think if I’d shut up about it early enough, yes. There was a point where it was too late. Screen-grabs live forever, and they would have concluded that I was too controversial. What’s more, they would have found me too un-constrainable — I wasn’t following orders. But if I’d stopped in September 2020, when I was first asked to, yes I think I would have been the next CEO. I was very qualified, I was a well-respected and well-liked leader, I’d delivered strong results over many years, and they would have loved to name a woman and someone who came up through the company ranks.
DW: Did you ever post anything political on social media before COVID? Were there ever any repercussions for that?
SEY: Yes I was always pretty active on social media. I didn’t have many followers. But I didn’t shy away from politics. No one ever cared or commented or nudged me in any direction. Politically, most of what I said aligned with “their” politics. If anything, I was further to the Left. But still within the acceptable confines of the Democratic party.
DW: Since leaving Levi’s, we’ve seen “woke” corporations paying for their employees to have abortions. What do you make of this?
SEY: I feel like this is a virtue signal. They’ve announced they will do so. But are they? How many people are really availing themselves of this service? For companies in California, like Levi’s, that offer healthcare benefits, this was covered before. It’s not a change. It’s a virtue signal. At Levi’s, based in San Francisco, abortion is legal and part of women’s medical care costs, therefore covered by insurance. They have a relatively small number of employees in Texas. An even smaller number are women of child-bearing age. An even smaller number are women who are pregnant who do not wish to be.
So, announcing this to the world – that the company will pay for their abortions – is a giant virtue signal. It’s signaling we are “progressives.” I doubt anyone has availed themselves of this “service,” though of course I don’t know that for sure. I don’t agree with a popular refrain on the Right that companies do it so women don’t need to take maternity leave. I think it’s all to signal “wokeness” and to signal “we support women.” But do you? You pushed me out the door for using my voice and standing up for kids. Do you really support women? Or do you just want people to think you do?