In an open letter to LGBTQIA+ Team Members & Guests, Target
Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target, called the threats surrounding LGBTQIA+-themed merchandise “gut-wrenching” and said workers in stores and service centers have born the brunt of abusive treatment by conservatives. Critics said Target is caving under pressure as culture wars rage on.
“Pride Month at Target is a time of affirmation and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community and a chance to reflect on the moment while seeking out joy together,” the retailer said. “We are committed to helping our guests, team members and communities observe Pride wherever and however they choose — from partnerships supporting LGBTQIA+ efforts to sharing stories of self-discovery.”
For 10 years, Target has offered exclusive Pride merchandise, with over 150 inclusive products available in all stores, the retailer said, adding that it also celebrates Pride Month with a marketing campaign that was created to inspire feelings of solidarity and empathy with the LGBTQIA+ community. “Our marketing celebrates the intersectionality of identities and interests, while creating and contributing to affirming spaces through engagements in social media, streaming playlists with annotations from LGBTQIA+ musical talent favorites, a Snapchat lens to celebrate with us in store, stories from the LGBTQIA+ community and more.”
Target’s Pride + Business Council is one of eight diversity and inclusion business councils at Target. The Pride+ Business Council is made up of a diverse group of team members from a variety of backgrounds and teams who are all passionate about ensuring the LGBTQIA+ community is represented and welcomed at Target. The council’s mission is to bring Target’s core values to life — “being bold in our authenticity, standing for love and common care, and fostering inclusion. The Pride+ Business Council creates opportunities for team members, including virtual events and experiences, and resources for education and allyship.”
Rob Smith, founder and CEO of The Phluid Project, Phluid and Get Phluid, cited Target’s long history of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and said it has been a corporate leader in promoting equality and inclusivity in a LinkedIn post.
“Target has embraced the spirit of Pride for over a decade, and has pioneered a commitment to providing a welcoming environment for all guests including an early adoption of gender affirming restrooms and fitting rooms in each store,” Smith said. “Target has positioned Pride assortments in every single store and proudly positioned them front and center.
“I would like to address the unfortunate backlash that has arisen from some individuals who are opposed to the Target Pride Collection,” Smith said. “It’s disheartening to see extremists reacting in an aggressive manner, creating an atmosphere of fear and hostility. Such reactions not only put Target workers at risk, but also threaten the safety and well-being of fellow customers who identify as LGBTQIA+ or support the queer community.
“I’m disappointed that they caved, but you have to care of your own people,” Smith told me.
Target said it’s been proud to partner with GLSEN for more than a decade, working to ensure all students have a safe place to learn. Target annually supports GLSEN and its mission to create affirming, accessible and antiracist spaces for LGBTQIA+ students.
The retailer also continues to support local, regional and national LGBTQIA+ organizations throughout the year, including the Human Rights Campaign and Out & Equal, with donations and volunteer hours from team members.
Target also seeks to work with an ever-growing roster of diverse suppliers. “Each partner, in their own way, helps us champion inclusion within our assortment and far beyond,” the retailer said. “Target partners with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to further our initiatives and help us develop relationships with LGBTQIA+ suppliers. Also, during Pride Month, Target featured our broadest product assortment to date with over 150 inclusive products available in all stores and on Target.com.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recognized Target for meeting all the criteria to earn a 100% rating on the Corporate Equality Index for the 10th consecutive year and earning the distinction of “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.”
“As part of our long-standing support of the HRC, Target joins a group of top U.S. employers as members of the Business Coalition for the Equality Act. This federal legislation would provide the same basic protections to LGBTQIA+ people as are provided to other protected groups under federal law.
“Inclusivity is a core belief we celebrate at Target,” the company said. “We stand for equality, a fundamental factor in making our team members and guests feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day. Over the years, we’ve worked with partners like the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network to support legal briefs and other projects that promote diversity and inclusion. In June, we introduced our Pride manifesto, a year-round commitment to creating an inclusive culture and taking pride in who we were all born to be.
“Today, we’re proud to announce another important milestone: Target has signed on in support of the Equality Act. Introduced in Congress this year, the bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and ban discrimination in areas including employment, housing, access to credit, public education and accommodations.”