Chip Bergh, Levi’s CEO: Advocacy, Activism & John Smale
Published November 6, 2022 by Nina Pearl in
Chip Bergh is President & CEO of Levi Strauss & Company—and a returning podcast guest (2020). Chip spent 28 years at P&G in leadership roles from Folgers to Swiffer, from Asia to Gillette and Old Spice. He got his start in the US Army as a paratrooper, rising to the rank of Captain.
Chip came back on the pod to talk about something he’s passionate about: the evolving role of the CEO—going beyond the P&L to advocacy and activism. Chip learned the idea of “the Responsible CEO” from P&G’s former CEO John Smale (1981-1990), arguably one of the most influential leaders of the modern era. Chip shares his thoughts from the new book about John Smale “Here Forever: The Timeless Impact of John Smale on Procter & Gamble, General Motors and the Purpose and Practice of Business.” Chip also discusses the issues he and Levi’s are active in: voter registration, women’s rights, ending gun violence and climate change. While many of us have strong beliefs on these topics, the goal of this discussion was not to push an agenda, but rather to focus on the nonpartisan business reasons for taking a stand on certain issues. Chip shares stories of not just his own style of values-driven leadership, but also how he’s continued, through humility and humor, Levi’s tradition of social activism.