2016/04/26

Target's Transgender Bathroom Policy Makes It A Boycott Target

Target has waded right into the debate about transgender and bathroom use, making it the first national retailer to weigh in on the subject.
And now stands at the center of a boycott for its trouble.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Target said it will allow transgender visitors to its stores to use the bathroom and fitting room that best aligns with that person’s gender identity. On Tuesday it posted the following statement on its website:
Recent debate around proposed laws in several states has reignited a national conversation around inclusivity. So earlier this week, we reiterated with our team members where Target stands and how our beliefs are brought to life in how we serve our guests.

Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.
We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally. Consistent with this belief, Target supports the federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBT individuals, and opposes action that enables discrimination.
The statement comes after North Carolina’s move to restrict public restroom use to the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate. That measure has sparked a national debate and many companies and celebrities have announced plans to pull business from the state or boycott.

And now Target finds itself the target of a boycott. The American Family Association is doing just that, asking for a boycott of Target for its stated policy and the company is currently fielding furious customer queries on social media.

This isn’t Target’s first time in the cross hairs of equality issues.


In 2010, Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, an organization that supported a Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota, Tom Emmer. Emmer opposed same-sex marriage and members of the gay community were upset by the donation and boycotted what had been favored retailer.

Target’s CEO at the time, Gregg Steinhafel, sent an email to employees stating the company’s support of gay rights, but said the donation and support were strictly for business reasons.

But customers don’t separate those two things (and anyone doubting this should read this from NPR).  Target was a favored retailer and brand of the gay community, and the donation put that status at risk.

The company retreated from its support of Emmer but  Target learns lessons, and learns them well.

Conservative groups can call for boycotts all they want, it’s unlikely that Target will lose much business. Quite the opposite. History has proven that companies that come down on the side of inclusion, not exclusion, profit.

Being inclusive is simply good business, particularly for a company such as Target.
Target operates 1,800 stores, many of them in large urban markets. Its growth plan, in fact, is rooted in new urban stores and on college campuses — markets that tend to rally around traditional left-leaning causes. But those causes are no longer those just for the left and have been adopted by more mainstream Americans.
And it’s not just about customers, but a company’s own employees as well. Target employs nearly 350,000 people. To support policies of inclusion is akin to supporting its own staff and all its variety.

Companies that don’t do that today are painting themselves into a corner, with fewer loyal customers and a smaller pool of quality employees.
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