Earlier this week, Steven and Susan Lax, founders of the Israeli footwear company, sent out a statement to their employees and customers rejecting the recent actions of hate groups in the United States.
The couple, who are of Jewish heritage, particularly denounced the “horrific displays of racism and anti-Semitism,” which were painfully on view in Charlottesville, Va., in mid-August.
They further cited their family’s own tragic history with the Nazi concentration camps, adding, “As a family, as a company and as humans, we cannot stand idly by. No one should be permitted to exhibit these horrendous displays of unmitigated abhorrence.”
The Laxes declared their commitment to defying bigotry in all its forms. “We will continue to spread our message of universal compassion, kindness and peace,” they wrote.
Read their full statement here:
Naot has a long history of encouraging peace, particularly in its own communities in Israel. For more than 40 years, the shoe company has employed Palestinians at full Israeli wages. “We believe that every sandal is a sandal of peace, as each one is handmade by the joint effort of Israelis and Palestinians,” said Steve Lax in a statement.
Throughout the days and weeks following the Charlottesville incident, an increasing number of corporate leaders have stepped forward to address this issue, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, who donated $1 million to two civil rights groups. And Under Armour founder Kevin Plank stepped away from President Trump’s manufacturing council when the president hesitated to condemn alt-right and neo-Nazi groups.
As Footwear News editor Sheena Butler-Young noted in a recent article, previously business leaders were loath to weigh in on political topics, but the current environment is rewriting the rules.
“If you think about the public consciousness and the discussions we have about the issues of the day as a football field, and you’re operating between the 20-yard line on both sides, there’s a middle of the road — those are the kinds of debates we have in a vibrant democracy. And how corporations and societies interact in that space is totally [dependent upon the kind of] brand they built,” said Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.