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Target Corporation Responds Poorly as News Goes Nationwide

by BearBudMN on July 27, 2010 · 6 comments

Last week the news of Target Corporation’s $150,000.00 donation to Minnesota Forward made it’s way around Minnesota.  Particularly Minnesota’s LGBTQ Communities. Three different stories were written in the Twin Cities LGBT News Blog The Colu.mn.  There were also two different blog posts here on the Minnesota Progressive Project.  A boycott of Target group has been created on Facebook over the weekend with close to 100 members already signed on.

As of last Friday many of us who started contacting Target about our disappointment over the corporations decision to support Minnesota Forward most likely got a return email that was very much like this one:

Dear Philip Lowe,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What’s more important than any one candidate’s stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward’s objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit www.target.com/company, and view the Civic  Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota’s future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Please don’t hesitate to call me at (612) 307-5075 using the reference number 1-452594505 if you would like to discuss this further.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.

Sincerely,

Dylan
Target Executive Offices
[THREAD ID:1-7HHF7B]

Here was my response to that email.

Dear Dylan,

The very fact that Target Corporation has placed a business and it’s corporate interests above the civil rights of individual people, and supported a candidate that is against the very principle’s that Target claims to be in favor of, is unacceptable.

I will continue to no longer support Target Corporation and encourage other members of the LGBTQ communities to follow suit.

I will not accept or tolerate any explanation of what Target has done in this regard, except refusing to further fund Forward Minnesota and Tom Emmer’s Campaign.

In addition to Tom Emmer’s claim against the LGBTQ communities, Tom Emmer is also in favor of reducing Minnesota’s Minimum Wage requirement, which will give more power to corporations to further do damage to Minnesota’s already hurting work force.

I therefore will not accept the answer that I have been given, and now regard Target as a lying ally of the LGBTQ communities.  Come Monday morning, I will begin my communications with the Human Rights Campaign to see if we can make the move against Target a nationalized activist campaign.

Philip

That email was followed with the following response.

Dear Philip Lowe,

Thanks for taking the time to share your additional thoughts about your experience. Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.

Your feedback helps us understand the changes you’d like to see at Target. Because we’re always reviewing our policies and services, I’ve shared your comments with the appropriate team.

Sincerely,

Dylan
Target Guest Relations
www.target.com
[THREAD ID:1-7HHF7B]

In other words a professionally polite “screw you.”

The news of Target’s decision to fund Tom Emmer’s PAC went beyond Minnesota when I wrote a blog article about it on Pam’s House Blend.  In the comments of my blog post was the following.

Mr. Steinhafel,
I have long recognized Target’s progressive policies toward its LGBT employees and have thusly rewarded it with my business, even in the face of miserable customer service experiences at your XXXX location near my home.  My household easily spends over $1,000 at Target each month.  Due to Target’s heavy support of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, my household’s spending will now be directed elsewhere.

In 1985 I was a leader in the economic response to bigotry at the ballot box in Houston when anti-discrimination policies of the city were taken to a referendum.  Major financial institutions and other businesses suffered losses of income due to their support of bigotry, though many became enlightened about workplace fairness in the process and reformed their corporate human resources policies.  Twenty-five years later I cannot abide by Target’s betrayal of the trust of LGBT consumers, regardless of the “pro-jobs” rhetoric your firm has proliferated in response to other questions about support for Emmer.

Corporations and politicians are either with me or against me.  To stand lukewarm or conflicted is just as bad as outright hate.

With kindest regards,
David Phillips

And this one:

The following is an email I sent to Target, via their web page. Thanks for the corporate contact and address, as I will also be sending a message directly to the CEO.

For all the good I’ve always heard about Target doing for the local communities it serves, it was quite a shock to read an article about Target giving $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, which supports the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage. The article (http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/07/24/Target_Contributes_to_Antigay_Minnesota_Politician/) states that Target’s response was that “Target supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.” I suspect, and hope, that Target is going to find out that this contribution is going to have an adverse affect on your retail and business interests, as it appears that you hopefully will realize that the LGBT community doesn’t like getting stabbed in the back, and will realize the hypocrisy you espouse. I personally don’t do a lot of shopping at Target, as there isn’t one close to me, but I will now make every effort to avoid Target, and let my friends in the LGBT community know what you’re really up to. I don’t think they’ll react too sympathetically with your decision.

And lastly

…???
If Minnesota Forward’s aim is to create businesses and jobs, for the love of God, why are they accepting money from the likes of Target (Walmart lite)…?!

These types of mega-retailers kill local businesses and apparently would rather shell out $150,000 to a political organization than pay their average employees a living wage.

.

It just so happens that as I was proofreading this blog post, I got a returned phone call from the national office of the Human Rights Campaign.  HRC Press Secretary Paul Guequierre sent me the following statement as he told me that HRC is attempting to work directly with Target over their choice to support Minnesota Forward.

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.

The news of Target Corporations support of Tom Emmer is also in a newspaper in San Francisco where they are reportedly building a new store there.

How will Target deal with the news that what they have done in Minnesota also affects them in other parts of the country?  We have yet to see.  This is getting very interesting to say the least.

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