Saturday, August 28, 2010

Target can become a Change Agent

It has been a confusing and upsetting few weeks following the exposure of Target’s contribution to an anti-gay candidate. It was gut wrenching for us to read the articles about a company that we believe is a model for other companies as an inclusive workplace environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender team members. It didn’t sound like the Target we know. It was also disheartening to read that devoted customers have boycotted Target over this issue. I have, however, learned over the years that it is not a good idea to overreact to a situation without some time to sort through the facts.

Paul and I know several team members at Target which of course includes our son, Brad. We have had the pleasure of being engaged with Target through their GLBT Business Council and other activities they have supported over the years. The Target we know is on a constant path toward a full inclusive environment for their team members and their customers. Are they perfect? It is our opinion that they are better than most but none of us is perfect in every situation all the time.

Remember the old saying, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water?” It is a perfect phrase to capture our thinking at this time. We still love Target, we will shop at Target, and we will work with Target when requested to continue to grow their understanding of what an inclusive environment looks like. This has turned out to be an opportunity for Target to get better. Based on the strong reactions from the public, it is obvious that customers and employees of Target want the value of inclusiveness in the workplace and in the Target stores. Gregg Steinhafel, Target CEO, wants to meet with other corporations to work together on an inclusive environment for employees and customers. That is a huge statement and has the opportunity for a much broader impact than just Target. Target has shown their vulnerability but not their inability to grow and change.

There is a reason that our son is so happy at Target and has been for 13 years. If gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders weren’t treated well and fairly, he would not love this company and the people who work there. That is our proof. Secondly, we have been to PRIDE Twin Cities and watched how Target team members create a family environment for the attendees and how they respect each person who visits their area. Target received the Pride award this year for their work for an inclusive environment. They have received an HRC score of 100% the last two years. A Target employee was recognized this year by Quorum, the local LGBT Chamber of Commerce, for their work on an inclusive environment. This is a company whose work has been recognized by organizations who analyze Target’s policies and procedures and feel they are on the right path. They have proven their intention for an inclusive environment. They have given their money and time to GLBT initiatives that exceed the $150,000 they gave to Minnesota Forward.

Target will come out of this a better company. In the meantime Paul and I will watch with interest as they bring their words to action. This is an important time for them and we know they are up to the task.

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