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Open Letter to Target’s CEO, Gregg Steinhafel

Dear Mr. Steinhafel,

I am contacting you regarding Target’s recent contribution of $150,000 to MN Forward, a PAC that supports anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Your public responses to this situation have emphasized that Target “supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests,” which, you’ve claimed, does not take away from the corporation’s commitment to LGBT people, including its employees, as demonstrated by various efforts enumerated in your 27 July message to Target team members.

However, in this situation, the contribution you’ve made to support your business interests could easily make things worse for your employees in Minnesota if Emmer is elected. Emmer has a well known record of supporting legislation that prevents LGBT people from gaining equal rights. You must realize that what you’ve characterized as an apolitical action is actually quite political and threatens to undermine the quality of life experienced by LGBT employees of Target outside their inclusive workplaces in Minnesota.

Furthermore, your fixation on “business interests” as the reason for the contribution comes across as shallow and dismissive. Speaking only for myself, I understand that a corporation’s actions are designed to increase profits. I wouldn’t expect a CEO to prioritize LGBT rights over increasing the value of a corporation’s stock. I’m impressed when a company finds ways to make positive social change profitable, as Target seems to have done. But your recent words and deeds confirm the most calloused suspicions that Target’s reputation as an inclusive place to shop and work has been nothing more than a business move.

As a result of all of this, Target risks losing customers (including my partner and me), i.e., business, i.e., money, and since money is what motivates, Target’s sizable contribution to MN Forward suggests the corporation has a lot to gain from Emmer becoming governor of Minnesota. If not, and there’s some less important reason for the contribution, the smartest business move at this point would be to take back the money.

I don’t want to boycott Target. Trust me; there aren’t many shopping options in my area, so this will be more difficult for me than for your corporation. But if you’re going to support candidates who believe it’s fine to discriminate against me, then it’s in my best interest not to support your corporation, which, I have no problem admitting, is very personal.

But I’m willing to forgive. I’m human, as is Target, according to the Supreme Court. So just take back the donation and exercise your newly granted right to free speech by apologizing.

James Black

One Response

  1. This is so much more eloquent and considered than anything I might think of to say. Bravo.

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