|Robert D. Haas|
1942 (age 75–76)|
San Francisco, California
|Residence||San Francisco, California|
|Family||Peter E. Haas Jr. (cousin)|
Born and raised in San Francisco, Robert (Bob) Haas received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of California, Berkeley in 1964, where he was Phi Beta Kappa, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1968, where he was named a Baker Scholar. Haas served in the Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast from 1964 to 1966. He was a White House Fellow from 1968 to 1969. After business school, Haas worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Company from 1969 to 1972.
Haas joined Levi Strauss & Co. in 1973 and served in a variety of roles. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1979 and as President and Chief Executive Officer in 1984. He served in that position until stepping down in 1999. He became Chairman of the Board in 1989 and retired from the Board in 2014.
Sales and profitability grew during the period of Haas’s leadership, thanks largely to the expansion of Levi's branded apparel internationally and the creation and rapid growth of the Dockers brand of casual apparel.
In 1985, Haas returned the company to private ownership. At the time it was announced, the Levi's LBO was the largest in U.S. business history.
During his tenure, Haas built upon the ethical traditions of Levi Strauss & Company. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Robert's grandfather, Walter A. Haas Sr., and great uncle, Daniel E. Koshland Sr., refused to lay off idled employees, risking bankruptcy. Instead they created work projects such as laying wooden floors in the company's factory in San Francisco. Walter Haas Jr. and his brother Peter insisted on running integrated factories in the American South, giving equal treatment to all races during the era of segregation. During his tenure as leader at Levi Strauss, Haas tried to create a corporate culture in which tens of thousands of employees around the world were treated fairly and well. In addition, the company led the way in addressing a range of social and business issues. In 1982, the company became the first prominent business to become involved in addressing the problems of HIV/AIDS, at the time a largely unknown disease. Under his leadership the company pioneered corporate standards for dealing with HIV-positive employees and created employee AIDS awareness programs. Since the early 1980s the Levi Strauss Foundation has donated over US$60 million to AIDS-oriented non-profits. In 1992, Levi Strauss became the first Fortune 500 company to extend health-care benefits to the unmarried partners of its employees, starting the acceptance of this practice by other leading companies. In that same year the company published the first ever corporate standards governing the treatment of employees in contractor factories around the world. Since then, these guidelines have been largely adopted by the apparel and footwear industries.
In 2009, Haas was selected as the Alumnus of the Year of the University of California, Berkeley.
Active in support of his alma mater, he endowed the Haas Scholars Program at UC Berkeley, which funds financial aid eligible, academically talented undergraduates to engage in a sustained research, field-study or creative project in the summer before and during their senior year at Berkeley. Each year, twenty Haas Scholars are selected from all disciplines and departments across the University on the basis of the merit and originality of their project proposals.
Haas is married to the former Colleen Gershon, and they have a daughter, Elise.
He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of California, Berkeley and serves as a Trustee of the Evelyn and Walter A. Haas Jr. Fund. He is a former member of the Trilateral Commission, Trustee of the Ford Foundation, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Honorary Trustee of the Brookings Institution. In addition, Haas is the former Chairman of Stanford's Humanities and Sciences Council as well as the former president of the Levi Strauss Foundation.