Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Completely Off Target ...

Perhaps you know, or perhaps you don't, that Target recently contributed $150,000 to a PAC that supports Minnesota gubernatorial anti-gay, Republican candidate Tom Emmer. (You may know of him from the recent mess he created for himself when he announced that many servers in restaurants make more than $100,000 a year and as such would see their wages cut if he were elected.)

Target's statement on diversity can be found here.

It's brief. Here's what it says:

"At Target, diversity is much more than a goal or campaign. It’s a core value we integrate into every area of our business — from our suppliers, to our teams, to the shopping experience in our stores. We foster an inclusive culture that allows our high-performing and diverse team to drive innovation."

Well, that doesn't square, does it? Why would a company that prides itself on social issues contribute to an anti-gay candidate?

Surely there must be more to the story. At the very least, we should give Target a change to explain, right?

Well, that's just what Abe Sauer did.

And here's what Target had to say (emphasis mine):

"Target is proud to call Minnesota and communities across the country home. To ensure economic growth in those communities it is critically important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders.

Target supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests. In fact, Target’s Federal PAC contributions year-to-date are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats, and we work collaboratively with legislators and officials at all points on the political spectrum.

Target fosters civic engagement through a wide variety of nonpartisan efforts aimed at enhancing team member and citizen participation in the political process. We encourage team members and citizens to engage in civic activities in the ways that are most meaningful to them, as we believe that engaged communities are healthier and stronger communities.

Target is proud of the diversity of its team, and we greatly value the wide range of perspectives offered by all of our team members. It is this diversity that creates our unique and inclusive corporate culture while helping our company remain relevant and competitive."

Well, sure. We expect a business that's grown as large as Target to keep its bottom line in mind.

But you know what else affects business interests, Target?

Bad PR.

And you know what else affects business interests, Target?

Customers who cease to shop in Target stores.

Here it is in handy graphic form:

Bad PR --> Customers who cease to shop in Target stores

Uh oh.

When I first heard about this story, I was saddened, but as a recovering journalist, I wanted to look into the matter further. As we all know, all too well, it's far too easy to push one side of a story. Some people really do care about being fair and balanced.

So I went to Target's Pressroom, hoping to see a statement. The most recent press release is from July 22 and titled "Target to Open First Manhattan Store in East Harlem this July." Not a word on this story.

Today, on my friend Jim's Facebook page, I saw this video of a woman who filmed her last shopping trip to Target. At least one Target employee was not pleased to see a camera.

But Rondi (I hope that's how she spells her name; my apologies to her if I've misspelled it) isn't alone.

I won't be shopping at Target. I have friends who won't be shopping at Target. And they have friends who won't be shopping at Target.

Will it be enough to greatly impact the company's bottom line? No, I'm sure it won't.

But I'll know that I'm not supporting a company that supports an anti-gay candidate.

In case anyone's wondering, I'm not gay. But I have many gay friends and I love them to pieces. What hurts them hurts me.

Then again, what hurts them, ultimately, hurts all of us.

Because acceptable discrimination does not exist.

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Blogger Rick Hamrick said...

It doesn't bother me one iota that businesses balance their campaign contributions. Call it a safe way to spend their money, particularly if they plan to spend a lot of it: spread it around.

This, though, far exceeds what I can stomach. Buh bye, Bullseye.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

So do you expect everyone on this list with a D behind their name to return the money?

If your standard is not to visit any company who has a PAC that gives money to someone who is 'ant-gay' (how do you define that?) then I would suggest you would have to stop shopping at any large or medium sized chain in America.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

You make a valid point, Henry. But there are an awful lot of $1,000 and likewise small entries on that list, as opposed to $150,000 for the PAC behind Emmer.

If I have to choose between being pissed off over a $1,000 contribution and a $150,000 contribution, I'll go with the latter.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Yeah but then that brings the question. Where is your theshold? Is it 5K, 20K, 100K?

Then also what other issues are showstoppers? Is the fact that Illinois owes social service providers 490,000,000 in back payments enough to get you to boycott companies that support those in power here in Illinois?

You have some fairly conservative folks in Indiana, is your governor anti-gay?

If so you going to avoid companies that gave money to PACs that helped him out?

Virtually every PAC is more or less a single issue or a small group of issues group.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

You asked about Emmer's anti-gay stance. This is from Abe, who got the statement from Target:

"All of the other gubernatorial candidates, from Dayton to Entenza to Horner to Kelliher have all said they would sign gay marriage legislation. So support for Emmer is support for the ONLY MN candidate against gay equality. And it's not just marriage, Emmer has authored legislation that would have a bill to define a child's parents as a 'mother and father' which would possibly remove the legal benefits and protections of gay parenthood in MN. That's not only hostile to progress, that;s actively regressive. He has also fought 'partner' language in wrongful death legislation.

Also, Tom Emmer donated to, and posed with, a Christian rock band that supported the practice of executing gays in some foreign countries."

As for all the rest of it, I recognize that there are probably unsavory aspects and donors in every campaign.

But this is the one in the news. This is a store I used to frequent. So this is the one I'm addressing.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Well that is sort of the issue I have with this sort of thing.

One entity does something and people get ticked and talk about boycotts and all this other stuff, where a bunch of other folks are doing the same and worse and just because one is getting more PR about it they become the target (no pun intended) and everyone else doing the same thing continues to do it with impunity.

Heck I give to a PAC that supports candidates I disagree with on some issues, but they are important on the issues the PAC cares about.

If you want to send a message to companies who give to candidates who disagree with you and a specific issue do it to all candidates otherwise the big takeaway from this is to make sure you corporate donation is more subtle (or not large enough to make a top 5 list of donors)

5:02 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Well, Henry, until I learn how to make my own shampoo and every other household product I need, I'll have to peel off retailers selectively.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Well here is what you need for the haircare products...

You can do almost anything else with vinegar if necessary :-)

7:52 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Not toilet paper ...

And with that, I'll consider my comments complete!

8:26 PM  

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