corporate fail

Target Has ‘Changed’ Its Corporate Giving Policies? Oh Please. Don’t Believe This

Well look who’s finally coming around on their wrongs: Target Corp. The company that donated $150,000 in cash and services to MN Forward, the PAC dedicated to the failed Minnesota gubernatorial campaign of anti-gay candidate Tom Emmer, says it’s going to have new political giving rules in place moving forward. So that makes things all better now, right? Not even.

The changes were implemented over the past month as a direct result of last year’s scandal, says a Target spokesperson. So what’s different? A new group of senior executives will review any money funneled through the company’s political giving unit. And that’s about as transparent as the company is going to get in sharing how Target is going to do things differently when weighing whether to give money to candidates who endorse discrimination and second-class citizenship. The new “policy committee and our CEO are responsible for balancing our business interests with any other considerations that may be important to our team members, our guests or other stakeholders,” says the corporate flack. Indeed, contributions will now be decided based on:

* General alignment with our business objectives
* Extent of our presence in a candidate’s state or congressional district
* Relevant legislative committee assignments
* Leadership positions
* Political balance
* The interests of our guests, team members, shareholders and other stakeholders

What do these “changes” point out? First, that Target seemingly had no checks and balances in place before these “changes.” And second, that the new policy committee is a sad attempt at convincing smart LGBT customers that the company is changing anything.

How to tell? Run the decision to donate cash to MN Forward back through Target’s “new” rules, and we will receive the same outcome.

Because who besides Target donates money to anti-gay politicians? Target executives. You know, the ones that are going to supposedly guide, in a more responsible way, the company’s donations from here on out. In addition to CEO Gregg Steinhafel, donations to rabidly anti-gay candidates were made by CFO Douglas Scovanner, CMO Michael Franci, and president of financial services Terrence Scully. For starters.

Meanwhile, just because a team of executives will now “review” donations doesn’t mean Target will ever give more weight to civil rights than tax breaks. From the company’s “Corporate Contributions” guidelines: “The use of general corporate funds for political contributions is permitted if the Policy Committee determines that would be an appropriate means of advancing issues that are important to our business. The Policy Committee reviews and approves any use of general corporate funds for electioneering activities or for ballot initiatives. This approval process applies whether the contribution is made directly to a candidate or party, or indirectly through an organization operating under Section 527 or 501(c)(4) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.”

Translation: Target will continue donating money to candidates who are friendly to the company’s corporate interests, whether these same candidates believe LGBT customers are second-class or not.

Just this week we heard from Daniel Duty, the company’s director of enterprise strategy, who says after the MN Forward scandal, “It was hard for us to fathom that all these people on the outside were saying that Target had done something terribly wrong, that it was not supportive of the GLBT community when, in fact, we knew very differently.”

It seems we know very differently too, Duty. But what’s so sad here is that Target has so pathetically revised its rules after it “consulted with some LGBT rights advocates on the change.”

Aside from opening new concept stores, nothing has changed at Target. Not even the willingness of gay and gay-friendly artists to do business with them. Target’s new donation rules amount to corporate spin and little else. This isn’t a re-commitment to the community. It’s an attempt to fool us into thinking a huge corporation that actively courts gay customers is going to start respecting us more.