Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel Needs To Decide Which Target He Wants To Lead

In a letter released today, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel claimed Target does not have "a political or social agenda."

Steinhafel's attempt to deny Target's history of support for progressive social policy is as distressing as his attempt to deny Target's major political contributions to Emmer-supporting MN Forward. Target has a long and commendable history of supporting GLBT rights both within the company as well as in our communities. That's what makes their support for Tom Emmer so jarring. The fact that Steinhafel refuses to acknowledge Target's past or present political and social agenda shows just how unwilling Target is to come to terms with the conflict between its progressive public image and conservative behind the scenes political dealings.

Gregg Steinhafel needs to decide which Target he wants to lead: the Target that plays an active role in supporting an inclusive, diverse, and respectful community... or the Target that blindly pushes for profit at any cost, no matter how damaging to its employees, customers, and community.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel Letter About Tom Emmer Controversy Never Mentions Tom Emmer

Today, Target released a letter from chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel. The letter never mentions the name Tom Emmer and does not specifically state that Target disagrees with Tom Emmer's positions on GLBT issues. We'll be posting more analysis of the letter later tonight. For now, here's the text of Steinhafel's letter:
Dear Target Team,

In the past week I’ve heard from some of you, including our GLBT team members, regarding your concerns with Target’s recent contributions to MN Forward, an independent expenditure committee that is supported by a broad coalition of large and small businesses throughout the state, including the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

As you know, Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state's job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.

In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company. Some current examples of that support include:
  • Domestic Partner Benefits
  • Sponsorship of Twin Cities Pride
  • Sponsorship of Out & Equal Workplace Summit
In addition, Target’s rating of 100% on the 2009 and 2010 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index further demonstrates the reputation our company has earned.

As CEO, I consider it my responsibility to create conditions in which Target can thrive, and I promise to do so with the best interests of our guests, team, shareholders and communities in mind. I appreciate your input and understanding.


Gregg Steinhafel

Chairman, President and CEO

Monday, July 26, 2010

Illinois State Rep. Greg Harris On Target: "They Can't Have It Both Ways ... I Hope That They Will Rethink This Contribution"

Illinois State Representative Greg Harris, an openly gay Democrat from Chicago who was present at the opening of Target's new location in Chicago, is surprised to learn about Target's support for anti-gay candidate Tom Emmer in Target's home state of Minnesota:
"This shows how important effective campaign disclosure laws are, so that we can follow the money that supports candidates who actively work against our community or who fund anti-gay ballot initiatives," said Harris. "Companies like Target need to understand that they can't have it both ways when it comes to issues of our basic rights, and that the facts will eventually come out. I hope that they will rethink this contribution and find a way to make it right.
Target's troubles are quickly going national, yet they remain silent on this issue. How much damage is Target willing to do to its brand in order to put Tom Emmer in the governor's seat?

Human Rights Campaign: Target "Helping A Candidate Who Shamelessly Rejects Equality For LGBT Minnesotans"

Human Rights Campaign, one of the largest and most visible GLBT rights organizations in the United States, released this statement criticizing Target's support for anti-gay Republican Tom Emmer:
Target has worked hard to create a fair and equitable workplace for its LGBT employees, and should be proud of its leadership in this area. It is for this reason that HRC is very disappointed in Target's significant monetary contribution to Minnesota Forward, a group supporting the most clearly anti-LGBT candidate for Governor in Minnesota. We have reached out to Target to express our concern over this contribution. While political contributions to support candidates are not a factor in HRC Foundation's Corporate Equality Index, HRC finds it puzzling that Target would take great steps to support LGBT inclusiveness while simultaneously helping a candidate who shamelessly rejects equality for LGBT Minnesotans.
Read more about the HRC's statement and Target's response (or lack thereof) to the national outcry over their support for Tom Emmer at MN Progressive Project.

Friday, July 23, 2010

NBC Bay Area: Target "Chooses To Ignore That As Governor [Tom Emmer Would] Work To Deny Rights To The Company's LGBT Customers And Employees"

The current top story on NBC Bay Area's website is headlined "Target Supporting Anti-Gay Minnesota Candidate." It doesn't get any better from there. This is more awful news for Target, as the company is currently working to secure approval for its first San Francisco locations. Highlights:
While San Francisco shoppers eagerly anticipate not just one but possibly two new outlets for Target in the City, political news from the Minneapolis-based company's home state of Minnesota might spoil some enthusiasm.

It turns out that Target has contributed $150,000 to a Political Action Committee that supports Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. ...

The company response? "Target supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests." In other words, it sees Emmer as more business-friendly than his Democratic opponent, and just chooses to ignore that as governor he'd work to deny rights to the company's LGBT customers and employees.
How long will Target stand by and watch its carefully crafted image collapse?

Reader Letter: Target and the Politics of Diversity

This letter from Targeting GLBT reader David Weiss speaks for itself:
“Dare. Dream. Do.” Target Corporation uses those words to brand its diversity commitment. “Dare not. Damn. Don’t.” might accurately brand Tom Emmer’s position on full civil rights for gay and lesbian persons. But Target recently chose Emmer as recipient of their $150,000 expression of free speech through a contribution to a PAC seeking to get Emmer elected as governor.

Target is one of the highest profile corporations to be publicly supportive of LGBT persons. Tom Emmer is the only major gubernatorial candidate with avowedly anti-gay views. Besides authoring the 2007 constitutional amendment that sought to ban same-sex marriage, Emmer has tried to alter wording in other bills to insure that same-sex couples are excluded from protections provided to other Minnesota families. Some families just aren’t worthy to dare, dream, or do in Emmer’s book.

Gregg Steinhafel, president and CEO, asserts on the company website that Target is committed to “foster an inclusive culture,” “strengthening the communities where we do business,” and “to play an active role in [their] progress.” Target has defended their PAC donation, saying it was “based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.” Apparently diversity is not such an issue. So Target thinks its bottom line will be helped by creating a Minnesota under Emmer where an inclusive culture will be under attack and where LGBT persons will see community progress rolled back.

Well, I have about $1000 of annual spending I’ve done at Target for each of the past ten years that think otherwise. I’m willing to bet I have 150 friends who agree, and probably another 15,000 people I don’t know, but who also care enough about LGBT diversity and justice to offer Target a little tutorial on the intersection between diversity and “retail and business interests.” Redirecting dollars for diversity; like Target says, let’s dare, dream, and do.

David R. Weiss is the author of To the Tune of a Welcoming God: Lyrical reflections on sexuality, spirituality and the wideness of God's welcome (2008, Langdon Street Press). A theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology,” David lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and is a self-employed speaker and writer around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. You can reach him at http://tothetune.wordpress.com.

Target Candidate Tom Emmer's "Nice People" On Homosexuals: "On Average, They Molest 117 People Before They're Found Out"

I wanted to highlight one particular passage from the SFist story we just posted:
Bradlee Dean, the frontman of a Christian rock band in Minnesota called You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, recently said that Muslim countries that execute LGBTs are "more moral than even the American Christians," plus some mouth-foaming about gays engaging in abominations and child molestation. Ugh. ...

Tom Emmer seems to like Bradlee Dean -- as in, really like. "These are nice people," Tom said of the band. Meanwhile, Bradlee told an interviewer, "On average, they molest 117 people before they're found out. How many kids have been destroyed, how many adults have been destroyed because of crimes against nature?"
Ladies and gentlemen, Target candidate Tom Emmer.