Target’s policy on political contributions changed six months after receiving criticism for endorsing an anti-gay politician, reports say. The policy now mandates that an executive committee be responsible for balancing business interests with other important considerations. The committee also oversees donations to parties and candidates.
Target spokesman Jessica Carlson said in the Washington Blade that “these changes are reflective of that perspective that we gained over the 2010 election cycle.”
The retailer received criticism from gay groups after their $150,000 donation to anti-gay Republican Tom Emmer during his Minnesota gubernatorial campaign last year. The LGBT community criticized and boycotted Target and Human Rights Campaign lowered Target’s Corporate Equality Index score by 15 points, according to the Dallas Voice [link].
While Target has supported Twin Cities Pride and says it will continue to support gay pride events in San Francisco and Chicago, when asked to sponsor the Creating Change conference, held blocks away from Target’s Minnesota headquarters, the company declined, according to the Dallas Voice.
Daniel Duty is the Director of Enterprise Strategy at Target.
In 1992, Duty was appointed by Target’s CEO as a co-sponsor of the company’s LGBT business council. Duty provides an insider’s perspective on being gay at Target and how the company overcame public and media backlash for supporting a candidate that opposed gay rights. Here, he discusses the clusterfuck that is Target’s relationship with the LGBT community after it donated money in a failed attempt to elect proud bigot Tom Emmer governor of Minnesota.
What is it like to be gay at Target? What is the general attitude towards LGBT people?
Duty: It’s funny that you ask that question. I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else as a gay person. I’ve had a fantastic career here for the last 10 years. I started many, many pay grades below where I am today. Target has been nothing but supportive of me and my career. As an out gay man who has been advocating very intentionally both inside and outside the company for inclusiveness, the only things that I’ve gotten back from Target are praise, reward, and support. And you could hear that story from people across this company, because I talk to them all the time.
A television ad by MoveOn.org was rejected by MSNBC Thursday because it violates the network’s policy against attacks on individual businesses.
The ad features Target’s iconic red bull’s-eye logo and claims the company was attempting to buy the election by donating $150,000 to MN Forward, a political action committee supporting antigay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.
MoveOn executive director Justin Ruben said the rejection was “the height of hypocrisy,” according to the Associated Press. He also said MSNBC’s parent company, General Electric, was protecting Target. The ads are running on Minneapolis–St. Paul ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates.
1. Examine your support of controversial issues and people from all sides. Clearly Target did not intend to set off an avalanche of protests and condemnations with its political contribution. But it should have vetted the political action committee, the candidate and his positions more closely.
2. A company’s relationship-building and outreach efforts to diverse segments of the market do get noticed. Ironically, it’s because Target has done such a good job of marketing to gay and lesbian consumers that it now finds itself at the center of this firestorm.
3. A good reputation takes years to earn, but it can be damaged in mere days or weeks. The long-term impact of Target’s actions on its relationship with the gay and lesbian community remains to be seen, but it’s clear that at least some damage has already been done.
4. Loyalty cuts both ways. LGBT consumers and other niche markets are fiercely loyal to those brands that support and engage them directly. But these same groups are also unforgiving of those who are perceived to have later turned their backs on them.
5. Put your money where your mouth is. Target has had several opportunities to correct this situation with a similar donation to groups and candidates that support equality for gays and lesbian, but to date they have chosen not to.
Really good article on the Target issue over at Advertising Age
John Bickford: I suggest going to Target, filling up a cart with stuff you would normally buy there, then abandoning the cart with a sign taped to it that reads: “This is what I would have bought today, except that Target lost my business by contributing to a homophobic politician who wants to take my rights away.”