Both Target and Best Buy are pointing to their 100 percent scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index as reasons why you can’t hate them for throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars behind an effort to elect an anti-gay political candidate. Does HRC bear any responsibility for misleading gays about these companies?
Despite donating money to MN Forward, the business-backed PAC that’s trying to get tax hater Tom Emmer elected the next Republican governor of Minnesota, Target and Best Buy’s stellar HRC ratings won’t change one bit, The Awl‘s Abe Sauer discovers. How come? According to HRC spokesman Michael Cole, “It’s important to understand that the CEI is a measure of the workplace practices of a company toward its own LGBT employees. We don’t believe that rating companies based upon their political contributions is an accurate reflection of their commitment to LGBT equality in the workplace.” Moreover, “Unless the contribution is to a ballot initiative that is anti-LGBT (such as California’s Prop. 8 in 2008), political contributions are not factored into a company’s score.”
So listen. HRC is entitled to create a separate score for how a company treats its gay employees and not gays in general, because hey, it’s a reasonable thing to want to know whether working for a company will get you things like health benefits for your partner and job security if you’re open about your sexuality.
Except HRC’s own methodology for its CEI scores do factor in donating money to anti-gay causes. HRC just provides a nice loophole for companies to do it without any responsibility from Gay Inc. Sauer continues:
When I ask if this means a corporation would not be dinged as long as its anti-gay rights money went through a PAC or intermediary, Cole says, “That’s not necessarily true,” explaining that ballot measures are a “different beast” than candidate election. The implication is that as long as a corporation’s money goes through a PAC-like intermediary, its CEI will not be dinged for donating to a candidate, regardless of how anti-gay he or she was.
And there you have it: If a company’s money goes to into a PAC, which can choose to spend its cash however it pleases, then the company doesn’t see its CEI score fiddled with. Only if the company directly moves money into an anti-gay ballot measure will HRC knock it down a few points, as 15 points of the CEI score is derived from “Responsible Citizenship,” defined as, “Employer exhibits responsible behavior toward the LGBT community; does not engage in action that would undermine LGBT equality. Employers found engaging in activities that would undermine LGBT equality will have 15 points removed from their scores.”
There is no more plainly a violation of this clause than donating money to help elect a candidate who believes in marriage discrimination.
Sauer brings up this ultimate — and frighteningly true — example: “This means Target or Best Buy would not lose their perfect ratings even if their money made it to, say, Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern, who has compared homosexuality to cancer and is on record saying homosexuality is ‘the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.'”
Take it one step further: Target could give money to a PAC that wants to elect Rush Limbaugh — and it would still maintain a 100 percent score from HRC.
And yet, despite not living up to being “Responsible Citizens,” neither Target nor Best Buy lost any of those 15 possible points. The Human Rights Campaign does many things wrong, including handling money, pressuring lawmakers, and missing opportunities mobilizing its “membership.” But we always gave HRC credit for spending some of the cash donors give it on research to provide quantitative scores about LGBT-friendliness in America. We always knew these scores weren’t perfect. Little did we know they were completely misleading.
HRC, plainly, is doing a disservice to the very community it represents by providing cover to companies that use the money we give them to lobby against our rights. It must at the very least re-evaluate the scores of Target and Best Buy and remove their 15 point “Responsible Citizenship” scores. Further, it should remove the loophole that allows anti-gay money to flow out in special ways that are immune to the CEI.
Later this afternoon, I have to purchase some paper towels and toilet paper, some more Crest toothpaste, and a new cushion for my outdoor chair. I will not be buying any of them at Target. And I certainly won’t be using a HRC Visa card during the transaction.
UPDATE: With an open letter and a full-page ad coming in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, HRC is now calling on Target and Best Buy to “make it right”: “The very least you can do to begin rebuilding your image among fair-minded consumers is to make equivalent donations to groups that support candidates who will put all Minnesota families first and fulfill the promises of our highest ideals.”
Target Loves Its Gay Employees And Customers. So Why Is It Supporting a Candidate Who Hates Them?
Target’s Pick Tom Emmer Confuses ‘Rights Of Free Speech’ With ‘Rights to Consumer Choice’
HRC President Joe Solmonese took a yearly salary last year of over $450,000.00
He makes quite a comfortable living keeping our community oppressed.
If anyone believes that it is in the best interest of our community to support this organization, I’d be interested in hearing why.
HRC says “We don’t believe that rating companies based upon their political contributions is an accurate reflection of their commitment to LGBT equality in the workplace.”
So if a battered women’s advocacy group donated money that went to a politician who supported legallizing spousal abuse they would argue that that battered women should still trust them because after all, just because this politician supports spousal abuse, it doesn’t change the fact that he treats his OWN wife well.
HRC has now shown that it is a boarderline prostitute, give them money or reply to their mail and you are a “Friend”. Rather than doing what HRC does, and having a knee jerk “We didn’t do anything wrong” reaction. How about discussing the issue, saying you will look into it, and blasting Target and this politician. Instaed, HRC will continue to deflect any criticism, and never bother to do anything about this situation.
christopher di spirito
I can’t say. It could be Target was better on LGBT issues under the previous CEO. If the new CEO is a winger or homophobe, HRC will need to adjust their scoring.
This is just so ludicrous. Using this logic, both Target and HRC are saying it’s okay to associate with a PAC that may have unsavory views/stands as long as the PAC’s other interests aligned with the organization’s aims (pro business policies). In other words, if this PAC in questions supported the repeal of women’s voting rights or the re-segregation of schools it would still be okay to give them money.
Also, from what I read above, HRC is flat wrong and contradictory. According to your post, HRC states that the score is related only to how companies treat gay employees. This does not jive with HRC’s own site. The criteria for scoring reads: Exhibits Responsible Behavior Toward the LGBT Community; Does Not Engage in Action That would Undermine LGBT Equality. Employers Found Engaging in such Activities will Have 15 Points Removed From Their scores.
Keep your $$money$$ away from HRC = Target = Best Buy = Cracker Barrel.
I was suckered by the HRC back in the 90s and learned my lesson very quickly.
Dump your dollars into your local community and cut out this ineffectual lobbying group.
It seems that HRC score is based on how they treat their employees in the work place. Targets actions didn’t change how they treat people in the work place, so there score won’t change. Most advocacy agencies do the exact same thing. Environmental advocacy groups for example rate politicians on their votes on legislation, could you imagine if they decided to factor in with PAC’s they gave money to? It would be simple that the few enviornmental Republicans would get dinged on there score for supporting members of their own party, being a politician if there is absolutely no benefit to take the stance they just might not take it. Who does it help? Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. Target is a cooperation that thinks about money first, they were likely convinced to treat there gay workers well becuase they believed in the long run it will bring in more customers. If HRC attacks them over political positioning which they are doing to protect their companies profit, and they become known as anti-gay and loose customers, form a purely business standpoint what would be the motivation to continue to pay partner benefits and all the other stuff when there is no reward? The bottom line is Target is treating its workers well in its realm of responsibility, HRC should send out an email blast telling their members to complain to target for giving money to that PAC but that is about it.
It’s HRC, and not just their toadying scoring process, that’s worthless.
I used to look at the HRC ratings and decide where I am going to spend my money, but what the fuck? If I did not shop somewhere that put a penny into anyone or anything that is remotely anti-gay anywhere down the line, then I would not shop anywhere! It is getting tiresome. Unless a company is obviously anti-gay, I am going to keep shopping there. I love Target, and I love Best Buy, and Ill continue to shop there. Except for WalMart, they can go to hell
“Does HRC bear any responsibility for misleading gays about these companies?”
No, because neither of them are anti-gay. They support a guy who has promising business prospects but also has a social agenda that these businesses have said that they don’t necessarily agree with. The third paragraph has a quote that explains this precisely. Target still respects gay people, they’ve still spoken out in support of gay people. They backed this guy for his economic plans, not his social agenda. How don’t we get this?
Whoops. I hit submit before I was done.
I personally think HRC is a terrible organization. I mean, they’re pretty much a joke now, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t right about anything. Sure, if Target supports Rush because of his social agenda, maybe you got something, maybe there will be a rational reason to hate Target. But when a BUSINESS supports a candidate for their BUSINESS prospects, it’s stupid to think that they agree with everything the candidate supports.
I’ve always known HRC CEI scorce were B/S just like their claims of caring abut Trans people their only interest is keep the money coming in so they all can keep their big money jobs and live the high life. They don’t give a shit about your everyday Gay man or Lesbian and they crtainly don’t give a shit about any transexual.
Target may well have earned a good rating in the past.
However, a single act can completely negate a huge amount of good will. Target seems to have performed exactly such an act.
If this was an error, Target could correct it by contributing the same or larger amount to each of Emmer’s pro-gay opponents.
However, if it was not an error, the good will is destroyed.
The HRC had merit up until the Citizens United Decision. Now that corporations are “people,” HRC _must_ take corporate donations into account (i.e., add a new category to its current criteria), or render itself completely moot.
@Sapphocrat: Er, I meant the HRC Corporate _Index_ had merit…
The HRC _itself_ hasn’t had a shred of credibility since Cheryl Jacques was ousted.
@Sapphocrat: (Corporations have been gradually turned into people ever since the 14th Amendment was passed. CUD was the last nail in that coffin.)
If you go to the HRC website and look at some of the other companies that get a 100 rating it’s like a rogue’s gallery of corporate malfeasance and Republican donors. Raytheon? Goldmann Sachs? Lockheed Martin? Bank of America? Take Bank of America for instance: looks like this season their donations are tilting heavily towards Republicans in the 2010 fall midterms. Can we be sure that none of them supports equality? I think so! What gives, HRC? If you’re going to ding Target and Best Buy, you’re probably going to have to ding some of these other companies, esp. given the criteria for the CEI rating that would knock 15 points off scores for companies that do something to harm the LGBT community.
6. Employer exhibits responsible behavior toward the LGBT community; does not engage in action that would undermine LGBT equality (0 points)
Employers found engaging in activities that would undermine LGBT equality will have 15 points removed from their scores.
I was planning on going to Target this weekend before I read about this. That obviously won’t happen now.
I’ve been largely ignoring the HRC for over a decade, except when they do outrageous damage to the queer civil rights movement, which is way too often.
I’m not sure why we have to puzzle over this.
If the HRC is supposed to take a corporation’s actions within society, in addition to the workplace, then the HRC isn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing and it’s up to donors to mandate a policy change.
If the HRC doesn’t really care about anything beyond workplace conditions but donors do, then again, it’s up to donors to force a change: the most obvious choices are to either include a corporation’s external policies within its ranking, or create and maintain a second ranking system to exclusively cover things such as campaign contributions and corporate sponsorships.
In any case, there isn’t really anything flawed in the scoring system itself: the evaluators may not be doing their job, or they may not be including things that gay people want in the system, but neither of those really indicts the system itself, which can obviously be anything the HRC wants.
I’m no fan of The Firm, HOWEVER, I think it’s stretching to have them monitor every facet of a corporation. One of the few things they have done that I think is good is the index. I do think they may want to revise it after this.
Even I don’t think they should be held accountable for EVERYTHING wrong in the world.
I think the internet is changing the way everyone looks/follows the money… perhaps an end result will be more transparency.
Business is evolving rapidly and access to info creates immediate results. I’m glad the pressure is quick, resolute (except for several comments on this site) & broad-based. I suspect, Target, HRC, Best Buy & the PAC have all been caught a bit off-guard.
I’m not a big fan of HRC, but I did already see a comment that they’ll be adjusting how they evaluate company ratings. No doubt.
Seems to me if I follow the logic of this article I can’t shop anywhere I’ll have to move into a cave somewhere totally off the grid no car no electronics no clothes no store bought anything not even condoms or lube guess I’ll have to be a hermit living off the land. LOL ya that will happen NOT! I’m sick and tired of all the nit picking we should pick out battles worry about the big picture first I happen to know more then one transexual who is employed by Target and were employed by them during their transitions and I’m in Montana for f*&^ sake. I don’t blame the HRC I blame that vocal portion of the community who demands all or nothing from everyone and every company and it won’t work. Now if Target and Best Buy suddenly fired every LGBT person then I would be pissed but making a donation to a candidate who may not fully support us? Come on if this politician is that anti-gay maybe we should be vocal in that community about how much Target and Best Buy love us and if he really hates us maybe his anti-gay supporters will demand he return the money or turn on him. As for where I’m shopping I’ll take Target and Best buy over WalMart any day.
If target donates to a politician who will work to deny you your rights then target is your enemy. They are in fact working against you. Are you going to give them the money to do it with? I sure as hell won’t.
HRC sucks big time.
I worked for Ford of Canada which scores high on the corporate eqality index. Their last contract eliminated tuition refunds for employees but kept tuition refunds for children of employees.
They eliminated the 500 dollar bonus and took back 1 week vaction from everyone, yet they managed to keep paying $3000.00 per kid for day care and after school programs for kids as old as 10 years old. Employees can now cover their adult children’s dental and eye care up to 24 years by having every employee pay a compulsory monthly fee. When you consider that only 3% of gay couples have children(Stats Canada), having a “you breed you lead” polcy is just as detrimental to the financial well being of gay employees as scoring low on the Equality Index. Is the Index worth the money?
As a Minneapolitan who knows these corps, I can affirm that their internal policies are stellar. And their sponsorship at Twin Cities Pride was massive. But they totally need to be held accountable for their “follow the money” problems here. It’s just a coincidence that tax-bashing and gay-bashing correlate under the same political candidates and parties.
So let’s not throw out the HRC scoring out with the bath water – instead let’s insist they add PAC contributions as an item so that they do get dinged rather than getting 100%.
Now let’s talk about their actual intentions behind their reckless contribution – getting out of taxes that the citizenry will have to pay? We keep watching corps paying less, and personal taxes picking up the slack and the city level via property taxes. This is even more offensive.
I’m a bit torn on this whole thing. I completely agree that the HRC is pretty useless. I also think it’s crappy for Target to support MN Forward given almost all of Tom Emmer’s positions.
But, I’m curious about whether the MN Forward thing is as cut-and-dry as it sounds. I also think boycotting target is a terrible idea.
First, the MN Forward thing. If you look at their website Emmer’s name appears exactly once and it’s not easy to find. It’s in their blog post from the 23rd about an ad they ran. To me that raises a couple of questions. Namely, when did target contribute to the group and when did the group officially declare support for Emmer?
If the support came before the contribution then yes, I think it sucks. However, if the contribution came before the support, then Target can’t really be accused of supporting Emmer.
So I think I have to reserve final judgement on that until a timeline comes out. Unless of course target is still making contributions in which case, shame on them.
Either way, boycotting Target could do more harm than good. Politics aside, Target is still a company that supports it’s LGBT employees. Because of that it employs a large number of LGBT people. Boycotting the store hurts them more than it hurts the company as a whole because store level jobs are going to be the first things cut if profits drop.
Who would give money to the HRC? Well-off gays that whose contributions buy entrance to supposedly gala events . . . and some unsuspecting people along parade routes – after being hit up by earnest but clueless volunteers.
Did I forget a major category? Corporate Pigs who want to buy off The Gay? Maybe that’s it.
But really? WHO WOULD GIVE MONEY TO THE HRC?
Corporations like Target and Hyatt obviously don’t take the HRC rating serious enough to stop screwing over our community once they get to put the = on their marketing websites.
After a costly consumer boycott for over two years, Hyatt still does business with Doug Manchester (HUGE Prop 8 donor), and I’m certain Target will continue giving money to anti-LGBT agendas as long as they get to maintain their precious = sign.
I wonder if the criteria for getting a 100% HRC rating is how good you look in a suit at a $10,000 plate dinner?
“Tax hater”? “Tax bashing”? Rofl.
Why not “censorship hater”? Or “conscription bashing”?
One reason gay rights are won so slowly is because you statist gays keep identifying freedom for gays with the agenda of the tax predator ruling class. Everyone views you as worm-tongued whores and flaks for the political class, who will support any violation of the liberties of heterosexual and their families as long as you get yours. You will support any smear or prohibition of any institution or practice, from homeschooling to adoption agencies, that don’t follow your line.
Hence the country rightly views you as fascists and you tarnish all gay issues.
@Bill: Joe knows if we win the rights we are fighting for , dadt, enda, marriage he will be out of a joe..
Uh…The first I even heard of this whole Target/Best Buy issue was in an e-mail from HRC demanding that its members/readership sign a petition + contact local Target managers, etc, to make them accountable for what they did. So…
@brucemajors: Hey, careful now. Not all of us are statists. I’m one of the few here who will not trade liberty for security. I support repealing the 16th amendment (and I’d love to see every IRS agent in jail for grand larceny), making it illegal to either force or forbid an employee to join a union. I oppose government schools, welfare, conscription, gun control, any restrictions on abortion, or any restrictions on speech of any kind from any source. Where national defense is concerned, I think neoconservatives are spineless sissies, terrorists have no civil rights, and that all Islamic nations are illegitimate. And as a Jew, I am no fan of the gentile faiths because of their history of oppression of BOTH my people: the Jews and the gays. And I would give my left nut to see Obama, Biden, Reid, and Pelosi, and almost all congressional Democrats clapped in irons for what they have done to this country. They went from being the party of white Southern racists to the party of black race hustlers. Having grown up in a town filled with self-righteous, hypocritical bleeding hearts I have no use for them and I refuse to support giving any more power to the state just because I’m gay. Throughout history, it is the state that has been the major oppressor of minorities or any hated group. Especially gays. Gay rights are natural rights, not state privileges, and the state needs to be forbidden from infringing on our rights.
I am a gay rights supporter. Most of the losers who post here are government rights advocates who happen to be gay. And anti-semitic and pro-terrorist sentiment runs rampant here.
Prepare to be called a racist, a Zionist (as if supporting the right of self-determination for the Jewish people is a bad thing), self-hating, a traitor, a corporate whore and worse. And then there are the things you can expect to hear from posters who don’t like you. And watch out for Gay, Inc. astroturfers attacking gay activists who actually get things done.
So have I prepared you adequately for what you can expect? Welcome to Queerty, where you need really tall boots to wade through all the bullshit.
@Mark: I can’t agree with you more Mark. Get this…
I lived in D.C. for several years and only blocks from the HRC Headquarters at 17 and Rhode Island NW. I am a recently retired Air Force veteran that donated a lot of money over the years to HRC. A couple years ago I was interested in getting tickets to the national dinner (this was before I became TOTALLY disillusioned by HRC overall). I couldn’t figure out why a friend of mine got tickets after he told me that he had just started donating money not long before that. I had been giving for years and could never seem to get tickets. So I called the HR HQ and was told by some volunteer that I “probably didn’t give enough money to get available tickets”. I was LIVID!! Then I started digging around and found out that HRC’s extremely high administrative costs were going towards glam cocktail parties, fashion shows and the nearly half million dollars that Joe makes a year. I immediately stopped donations and ensured that not another piece of mail or email came into our house!
I echo your sentiment…support the local agenda and help your community directly. Do NOT send money to HRC!!
So the ineffectual lobbying organization HRC doesn’t understand that political lobbying is an important measure of an organizations’ commitment to equality?
Well, I guess that explains the ineffectual part.
We support those candidate who are pro-gay and oppose those who are anti-gay. And that is wise.
But what about pro-gay corporations. What should they do when it comes to their bottom line?
Should they go with the candidate that is anti-gay and pro-business or should they go with the candidate that is supportive of our community but wants to tax and control them out of existence?
We want Target to consider our concerns… but do we have no obligation to consider theirs?
It’s not all black and white, folks. They don’t exactly have a pro-gay pro-business option, do they?
You seriously fail to realize that a candidate can be a lot of things all rolled into one. Gay issues are not the only reason to vote for someone. At this point, if the person running could balance the economy and created jobs, I really don’t care if he wants all gays executed (because I know that isn’t realistic and will never happen no matter how hard he works for it) as long as he can balance the economy and create jobs. This country has much more pressing matters to attend to than gay issues. Sorry if that pisses a lot of you off. However, if your candidate with an outstanding gay rights record is also outstandingly bad for the office they are being elected to, you might want to reconsider lending them your support based on those non-gay related issues.
We must move beyond HRC. THe rights of LGBT Americans must be represented by an organization that is not controlled by companies that are willing to talk the talk but incapable of walking the walk.
DO NOT DONATE TO HRC!
@Dawson: Your apathy and lack of focus is, sadly, typical. Your hair looks good, I hope you win.
@chadnnocal: Couldn’t agree with you more!
See above comment: “The criteria for scoring reads: Exhibits Responsible Behavior Toward the LGBT Community; Does Not Engage in Action That would Undermine LGBT Equality. Employers Found Engaging in such Activities will Have 15 Points Removed From Their scores.”
Contributing to a PAC for an anti-LGBT politician=undermining LGBT equality. End of story.
See previous comment: “The criteria for scoring reads: Exhibits Responsible Behavior Toward the LGBT Community; Does Not Engage in Action That would Undermine LGBT Equality. Employers Found Engaging in such Activities will Have 15 Points Removed From Their scores.”
No matter what Target says, if their money gets an anti-gay politician in office–no matter how fabulous his economic policies are–then Target’s LGBT employees get the shaft from an equality standpoint (even though, yes, they might benefit economically). Do you think the politician in question will say in public, “Target supports me–even if they don’t agree with my social policies”? Of course not.
How do you not get this?
There are two issues at play:
1. How do we treat Target? Yes, I understand the need to balance economic concerns with social concerns, and I don’t think I’ll be boycotting Target, as their internal policies have not changed.
2. That being said, the HRC–if they are intent about educating the public about a company’s total commitment to LGBT equality, need to be honest and consistent. If two businesses have the same workplace policies, but one donates to an anti-LGBT candidate (for whatever reason), AND if my business decisions are motivated primarily by support for the LGBT community, then I’d patronize the other business. If HRC’s scoring obscures those facts, it needs to be fixed.
Michael Joseph Cuneo
As usual, HRC comes in late and only after they’ve been dragged into doing the right thing by actual activists. Their business model of making money off of doing nothing but writing press releases off of the hard work, investigations, and call-to-action that other groups do is amazing. I wish I could make so much money for doing absolutely nothing.
As one commentator on a Huffington blog said, “ You can’t oppose the KKK and sell them sheets.” Is it me imaging things or is the leadership of the GLBT community and blogs ignoring their responsibility to bring this topic up because they get money from Target and Best Buy (I don’t if this is true, but why aren’t they talking about it)? Finally HRC and their highly paid leaders come out and address it a week later. This is the only GLBT site that is talking about it. A few others mention it, but talk about compromise and how boycotts don’t work and this will become the norm. Target and Best Buy have to be taught a severe lesson so other corporations don’t do this because they see a negative bottom line impact. If enough stink is raised corporations that are friendly to gays won’t be ambiguous in their giving. FaceBook – Target Boycott Tell Investors to Dump the Stock
I think the HRC rating IS ridiculous.
ETRADE has a near-perfect rating, but they recently allowed their homophobic (probably mormon) Utah based managers to indiscriminately fire all the “out” gay men at their Utah office. I haven’t bothered to look at HRC ratings since.
I have long said the HRC Equality Index is a joke. I work for a company that scores 100%. Though they offer domestic partner benefits, they will only sponsor GLBT causes in NY, LA, and SFO where the “big gay crowds” are. Apparently, it’s not worth their time/money to support in Texas where their HQ is. In addition, there are an estimated 10% of employees that are closeted because being gay here is “career limiting”. HRC needs to ditch this program or re-vamp it to look at all the dark and dirty aspects of where these companies are sending money – if they are giving to a foundation that passes the money to anti-GLBT candidates and organizations, they should be getting an automatic “0”.
Anybody stop to realize that the CEI ratings for Best Buy and Target came out before they donated to MN Forward? Now, HRC is following up on calling them out and telling them their reputation is tarnished. But whatever, just keep saying whatever’s in your head.
@Steve: That’s like saying “But Hitler did so many good things for German self esteem.”
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