Bob HaasPride Freedom Award
Pride Freedom Award
For outstanding contributions to advancing civil rights and freedom for LGBTQ people.Robert D. (Bob) Haas was born and raised in San Francisco and is a proud graduate of UC Berkeley. In 1982, as a senior executive at Levi Strauss & Co., Bob joined in the effort of a group of employees handing out leaflets alerting fellow employees to a still-unnamed disease fatally impacting gay men. When Bob moved into the CEO role in 1984, the company quickly established itself as a corporate leader in responding to AIDS by educating employees, establishing support groups, and sponsoring volunteer activities. The Levi Strauss Foundation has since 1983 provided $70 million to HIV/AIDS nonprofits around the globe. Bob served as CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. from 1984 until 1999. In 1992, they became the first Fortune 500 company to offer benefits to same-sex couples. That same year, the company braved a boycott campaign and made the decision to cease matching gifts to the Boy Scouts of America because of its ban on gay individuals. The New York Times at the time highlighted Levi’s “hard line on the new diversity of America.” Bob has helped lead the fight for LGBTQ equality as a board member of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, a San Francisco-based foundation established by his parents in 1953. The Fund was the first funder to make marriage equality a priority and helped create the Freedom to Marry campaign as a driving force for change. This work culminated in the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision, making marriage equality the law of the land. Bob wrote in a piece for the San Francisco Chronicle, “Advocates for marriage equality didn’t give up on the fight despite enormous setbacks — and even with the Supreme Court firmly on the side of justice, I know we won’t stop moving forward.”
Original illustration by George McCalman.