A former brand president for Levi’s is speaking her mind about what she saw happen to Corporate America involving ‘woke’ cultural influences.
At one point in her career with the legacy jeans maker, Jennifer Sey was actually in line to become the company’s CEO. But then she complained online about lengthy pandemic school closures and was falsely smeared as a “denier” who was only trying to help then-President Donald Trump.
After Levi’s gave her the option of staying silent or quitting, she left the company. Now, she has a new book out explaining everything.
In “Levi’s Unbuttoned: The Woke Mob Took My Job But Gave Me My Voice,” she writes:
Today’s executives reared these kids with an ‘I’m not your dad, I’m your friend’ parenting philosophy, and they chase their children’s approval. They want to impress their woke kids with their own progressive bona fides.
They want to be cool — peers, not parents — in the eyes of their offspring, valued not for the material goods that they provide but for the values that they champion.
And now these young people are populating the companies led by “I’m not your dad, I’m your friend” CEOs. Surrounded by this cohort, CEOs are awash in approval and praise — but only if they can find a way to pander to the generation’s every shifting demand.
Thus, the woke cancel culture that started on campuses has not just migrated into the culture at large, but has come to drive policy in almost every corporate boardroom.
Crucial to this is that these kids are social media pros, which makes them especially effective enforcers.
They grew up with phones in their pockets, generating moment to moment likes on TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube. As students, these Millennials and Gen Z-ers knew that they could tweet from a classroom if a professor looked at them funny and garner not only peer attention but launch university investigations into tenured professors’ classroom practices.
Now they can post a picture of their boss on Instagram, calling her out for using the gendered term “guys.” No one is safe. No one is immune.
These 20- and 30-somethings are ideological terrorists, policing their peers and elders relentlessly. They are “omnipotent moral busybodies” ridding the world of evil, and they will not rest until they exorcise immorality for the good of those being exorcised.
But as C.S. Lewis said, “I’d rather live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.” Amen to that.
Why do they do it? Because, as author and economist Thomas Sowell has said, those “who are contributing nothing to society, except their constant criticisms, can feel both intellectually and morally superior.”
By doing close to nothing — wearing the right T-shirt, affixing one’s social media profile with the right badge (for example, “I am vaccinated” or “I stand with Ukraine”) and by canceling the “wrong” people by generating outrage with a finger tap, they are saved.
For their part, the CEO dads (yes, 95% of CEOs are men) are not social media experts. Their Corporate Communications leads manage their LinkedIn accounts, and they scan their wives’ Facebook accounts on occasion to check out what the kids are up to. And that’s the extent of their social media prowess. Which makes it all the easier for the woke mob to cow them online — and even in their own offices.
The outrage generated through call-out culture and social media cancellation is real. And very satisfying for those who invoke it. But it also isn’t real. It passes quickly for the most part, if its targets have the fortitude to hunker down and bear it. As Dave Chappelle says: “Twitter’s not a real place.”
The gutsy stance — tilting at windmills and fighting injustice — is a just a persona, a public facade, a wealth-generating marketing strategy.
They love money, and they fear the angry mob because that mob may interfere with their ability to produce inter-generational private-plane wealth.
They want to make as much money as possible, but they want everyone, including their kids and their kids’ cohort, to think that they really just want to make a difference in the world. “Oh gee, aw shucks, I happened to make gazillions of dollars. But that’s just ’cause I’m really, really good at heart.”