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.

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  • Cam

    The CEO not only sent in personal donations but apparently sent his child to seminars run by Focus on the Family, and his daughter attends an ultra religeous school with…of course, anti gay policies.

  • justiceontherocks

    Cue the moronic apologists (translation: employees) for target who will assure us that this is all a mistake or that we misunderstand the policy and that Target still loves us anyway.

    Funny thing is, I wouldn’t mind their policy so much if they didn’t send out the shills to insult our intelligence by claiming how wonderful they are.

  • Shannon1981

    Any intelligent person knows this is a crock. They are saving face big time when nothing has really changed. And it seems these may be the values of the CEO himself, if his kid is in a fundy school and goes to FOTF events(which, btw, has been declared a hate group the Southern Poverty Law Center for spreading lies about LGBT people akin to what Nazis said about Jews) and he is giving not just corporate funds but HIS OWN MONEY to these people…yeah. Not just anti gay, but the really dangerous, hateful variety. Stay away from these people. The gays inside are paid, brainwashed pawns. Do not believe them.

  • Crabby

    too late, screw em… I’ll spend my few thousand dollars a year elsewhere… K-Mart, Costco, Sears all have 100% HRC rating…

  • Scott

    @Crabby, Target had a 100% score on HRC’s CEI (refer to page 13 of the 2010 report). The only reason we know about Target/Best Buy/3m donations is because the companies are MN-based and the state has great transparency laws. Granted, its bad policy to allow employees to donate on behalf of a corporation (which was the case with Target), the fact is you can’t be so confident about those other companies’ donations because they aren’t held to the same level of transparency.

  • Crabby

    @Scott… as far as I know the hard earned money I spend at these businesses isn’t going to anti-gay politicians, and if I find out it does, I’ll shop elsewhere.

  • Scott

    @Scott: actually a better example of corporations giving (via employees) is the chamber of commerce, which is pro-republican (which is almost always anti-lgbt) in its giving. from their board of directors (, familiar companies represented are ATT/Verizon (hope you don’t have an iphone), Xerox, Dow Chem, US Air, etc. This isn’t to say that the companies are evil, but it is to say that it is difficult to identify the line that gets crossed in advocating for pro-capitalist policies via politicians that happen to be bigots. The moderate Republicans can’t win primaries very often

  • Spike

    Just don’t buy Target !!!!

  • B

    QUEERTY: “So what’s different? A new group of senior executives will review any money funneled through the company’s political giving unit.”

    What Target is stating is that they’ll have an additional level of review to make sure that the donation won’t annoy customers because the recipients are viewed as not just being yet another “pro-business” candidate or PAC.

    Often companies make these donations for a very specific reason – to gain influence (really to buy influence, but that sounds too much like bribery).

  • Ricky

    I stopped shopping at Target in July when this story broke – and after writing a scathing letter to the CEO. Target’s actions surprised me – what surprised me even more – was how much better my consumer life and choices are now that I no longer waste time in Target.

    This change in policy says nothing – simply saying you will not as a company support any politician or political group that discriminates against gays and lesbians is not that difficult – it is a simple declarative sentence — I am sure – well, I hope, that Target could say it about Christians, about Latinos, about Blacks, about Jewish shoppers – but they cannot or will not say the same about lesbian and gay shoppers.

    Our fundamental rights and equality have – and are likely again – to take a backseat to Target’s so-called business agenda – which is really no more than the personal hate-filled homophobic agenda of Target’s top executives.

  • Brian Miller

    Let me flip this around:

    If it’s OK for gay people to condemn Target for making donations to further its business to politicians who happen to be gay, is it also acceptable and reasonable for successful businesspeople to hate gay people and condemn them for supporting pro-gay Democrats who support anti-business policies?

    The knife cuts both ways you know… that’s why this fealty to the Democratic Party is so dangerous.

  • Brian Miller

    Oops, I meant “politicians who happen to be ANTI-gay.” Not enough coffee today.

  • Brian Miller

    it is difficult to identify the line that gets crossed in advocating for pro-capitalist policies via politicians that happen to be bigots


    One of the most popular anti-gay political arguments of recent years has been “gays are in favor of tax increases and regulations that punish small businesses — just look at all the tax-hiking Democrats they support who have crushed the life out of our business community!”

    It’s as bogus as attacking Target for making some donations to the candidate who supports their business goals (but who also happens to be anti-gay).

    What we really need to do is push towards fewer apologies for anti-gay Democrats (and there are a lot of them) and a more balanced approach that subjects GOPers, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens and Independent candidates to the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

    We also need to be fairer to longtime corporate allies like Target who are being targeted selectively by HRC for refusing to pay shakedown cash, unless we’re willing to accept a similar outcome for our own strategies (e.g. “gays are anti-business big government tax-hiking sorts, because they voted for the pro-gay candidate who happened to be bad for business.”)

  • justiceontherocks

    @Brian Miller: Those are good points.

    It’s worth remembering that a corporation’s primary duty is to its shareholders. Expecting any corporation, especially a publicly traded one, to put social aims ahead of profits is just asking for something that is not going to happen.

    Your point about reliance on the Democrats is also very valid. Think of it this way: if you go to only one store to buy shoes, and you tell them they are the only store you’ll ever buy shoes at, what is that store’s incentive to do anything for you? In fact they’ll do much less for you. They’ll raise the prices and cut back on the selection. But let them know you might shop at another store some time and you’ll get a lot better treatment. It’s the same in politics.

  • B

    No. 3 · Shannon1981 wrote, “Any intelligent person knows this is a crock. They are saving face big time when nothing has really changed. And it seems these may be the values of the CEO himself, if his kid is in a fundy school and goes to FOTF events”

    Just did some checking. According to “Steinhafel’s daughter attended Wheaton College, a Christian school that signs all incoming students to a Biblical “Community Covenant” which condemns homosexual behavior.”

    But, if you look up Wheaton College on Google, you get two colleges with the same name. One is a Christian liberal arts college near Chicago. The other is a liberal arts college in Massachusetts.

    So, the obvious question is whether the reporter checked carefully as to which Wheaton College it was (the Christian college was at the top of the search page so he/she might not have noticed that there were two with the same name, and reporters usually don’t check all that carefully – they have deadlines).

  • Danny

    And Miss ‘gay anthem’ GagGag expected gays to buy her crap at that homophobic store? Pass on both.

  • Shannon1981

    @B: still doesn’t explain the Focus on the Family events. We all know what THAT is about. Chances are, its the fundy college if they are involved with FOTF.

  • Brian Miller

    the obvious question is whether the reporter checked carefully

    But why check carefully and have correct facts, when a hysterical hissy fit is so much more fun?

    The irony is that the same people having a hyper-hysterical meltdown over this “scandal” campaigned for pro-DOMA Joe Biden and anti-marriage-equality Barack Obama with equal intensity. Talk about “talking out of both sides of one’s mouth.”

  • Paul

    It’s a queerty article….no facts needed…just a slant and a twist….kinda like the blog I look at and wonder who writes this trash…is paris hilton working here now?

  • frozen north

    I don’t get these, CEO=whole company arguments.

    Target is full of GLBT employees. I swear half the gay people I know in Mpls work at Target or Best Buy. They’re huge sponsors of Gay Pride in Mpls, they donate a lot of time, money, and volunteers to local gay organizations, provide domestic partner benefits, have executive level LGBT diversity councils, and until the very end had 100% ratings on HRC’s index.

    Now suddenly, they’re right up there with Focus on the Family? Really?

    I think what they did was stupid, but I don’t think they in any way donated to specifically hurt the GLBT community. Like most everyone else, I got mad and discouraged; wrote them and protested. But they appologized, changed their policies, and are stepping up funding for gay social organisations.

    At this point, I think some of you are just plain fanatical, and nothing will ever change your mind. Fine. But cry wolf too often and don’t be surprised when nobody responds.

  • B

    No. 18 · Shannon1981 wrote, “@B: still doesn’t explain the Focus on the Family events. We all know what THAT is about. Chances are, its the fundy college if they are involved with FOTF.”

    When I searched for that, I didn’t find a definitive source, but a lot of sites claiming it had identical or very similar wording.
    So who knows? These bloggers and various “news” sources simply copy what each other says, often without attributions.

    I found really convincing evidence of that a few years ago when the winner of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence “Hunky Jesus” contest was announced. One guy screwed up and posted the wrong winner, and nearly everyone else did too, and since they all made the same mistake – naming the same person – it evident that they are copying from each other. So, you can’t check for accuracy merely by verifying that a lot of different news sites are saying the same thing. (Of course, by now all the sites corrected their articles, so you’ll have trouble seeing what went wrong unless you bothered to make snapshots of Google search results at the time).

    Obviously someone claimed this FOTF thing and a lot of people copied it. Whether it is true or not is anyone’s guess. There is no evidence that Steinhafel made his daughter go to FOTF even if she went there – other possibilities are that his daughter wanted to go or his wife encouraged her to go, all of which are private matters that a family is unlikely to talk about in public. Also, the reason for encouraging a teenager to go there may have nothing to do with FOTF’s anti-gay ideology (in some cases, the kid could be getting a bit wild and the parents want to calm the kid down before there is a real problem).

  • Ricky

    The issue is not as complicated as some here seem to want to make it.

    Target presents themselves as a corporation that is about equality and inclusiveness – that is a lie – it is a lie in their political giving – taking the very first opportunity they were legally given as a corporation to give a very large amount of money to a rabidly anti-gay candidate – support the executives who made that decision have been giving personally for years — using the justification – which some here are evidently too stupid to actually examine – that Emmer was pro-business.

    Exactly how is Emmer pro-business – and how is Dayton anti-business – HAS ANYONE ACTUALLY DEFINED THIS – or is rabidly anti-gay rhetoric automatically allowed if someone simply says the magical phrase – “pro-business”? Does Target imagine I will spend more if I am oppressed and unhappy — if I am battered and bruised – if I am lying dead in a ditch somewhere? Is that it?

    It is a lie in their executive hiring – choosing to hire partisan Republican hacks at the very highest level – it is a lie when they said they would re-examine their policies – and then gave another $40,000 to rabidly homophobic candidates in the 2010 election cycle – really – the worst of the worst – candidates.

    Target lies – they are liars – this is not about pro-business or anti-business – this is about a personal conservative homophobic agenda at the executive level that – as Republicans always do – was pursued at the corporate level at the very first opportunity.

  • Shelley

    Short and Sweet:
    The morality of the anti-gay politicians will still be a part of their policies no matter WHAT they do for business.


  • Kurt

    “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,'”

    First spare me the newspeak. Workers and customers, not team members and guests.

    And here is an idea. Rather than some Rich Executives reviewing the decisions some other rich Executives make, why don’t you allow Target’s workers to elect someone to the Policy Review Committee, as well as a customer representative and a shareholder (remember them — the people who actually own the corporation?) representatives.

  • justiceontherocks

    @B: God you are a fool.

    Your CEO has said long and loud that Target has “no social agenda.” It’s not a gay friendly organization. It’s a company trying to make money by sucking up to as many people as it can.

    Of course, the CEO gave a grand to Rep. Bachmann. That makes him a person without ethics or sense.

  • B

    No. 29 · justiceontherocks curiously made a fool of himself by writing, “@B: God you are a fool. Your CEO has said long and loud that Target …”

    …. WHEN (a) I don’t work for Target and (b) merely posted factually correct information that “justiceontherocks” apparently doesn’t want to hear. Even funnier, I never even “defended” Target – but rather (in a different thread) pointed out that human error was a plausible explanation – they didn’t realize that a donation to an obscure PAC that funds “pro-business” candidates would cause such an uproar and our now fixing their procedures to account for that. They want to make money, and you can do that by keeping your customers happy but also by limiting government interference in what you do. They are trying for a mix of both.

    There’s simply no evidence of an anti-gay agenda at Target – they are supporting candidates who they view as “pro business”. Most of the candidates who say what Target’s executives want to hear are, however, Republicans and Republicans tend to spout anti-gay positions (whether they believe them or not) because the Republican Party got itself into bed with the religious right wing.

    As to Emmer (just one of the candidates that Minnesota FW supported), his own web page never mentions gays (instead he has a sentence buried several links deep about marriage between a man and a woman). He apparently supported anti-gay positions, but is hardly rabid about it – he was probably voting for it so he’d have his bases covered with the religious right wing (then he could point to a couple of votes if asked, but ignore it otherwise). He’s certainly not anti-gay in the same sense as people who rant about how “sinful” it is to the point where they talk about nothing else. Rather, he seems to be yet another self-serving, “tell them what they want to hear” politician.

    In any case, why don’t you try to make your point by listing any anti-gay legislation that Emmer might have introduced (not merely voted for). When I searched for (no quotes) “Emmer legislation introduced” what made the top of the list was some flap about DUI (with his side denying what the other side said). Since you are obsessed with the guy, why don’t you go to the effort of finding a list. The closest I found was at (apparently a Lesbian site), and it didn’t mention any anti-gay legislation that he introduced (but there were things he voted for). It mentioned a donation from his campaign to some guy who allegedly thinks highly of “Muslim countries that execute gay men and lesbians,” but other sources put that donation at $250, and didn’t indicate if the donation came before or after the statement or if the campaign workers authorizing it knew. The list does, however, provide plenty of reasons to vote against the guy – being allegedly anti-gay is the least of it. He sure won’t get the waiter vote – he wanted to let employers count tips as part of a waiter’s minimum wage. He claimed “[that] the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources should have no regulatory control over farming.” (quote from URL, not necessarily Emmer). He liked the Arizona anti-immigration law (there does the ethnic minority vote). No wonder he lost.

  • Red Meat

    Lady Gaga is the reason they even had this conference in the first place, power of the Queen bitches.

  • damon459

    I’ll keep saying it if I track every single dollar I spend to make sure they are going only to 100% gay friendly companies I’d be sitting in a house so full of cash I wouldn’t be able to breath. My Utility company isn’t 100% gay but I’m in Montana I don’t have option to run 100% of solar panels. I need a car it needs fuel most oil companies aren’t totally gay friendly. I could go on and on the fact is they out number us so unless we get our own country that doesn’t trade with any other country and it 100% self sufficient there is no way to totally avoid our “gay” dollars getting into the hands of people who don’t like or agree with us. Why don’t we try educating and changing minds rather then throwing a b*&ch fit every time we disagree with companies donations?

  • Broadway Reviews

    It would be hilarious to see how Target would function if all of their gay employees would walk out and gay people would boycott them. Chances are that would never happen, but they would shut down. As for changing their ways, I doubt it will ever happen, but would be nice.

  • Garrett

    You don’t think, especially now with the Citizens United ruling, every Fortune 500 donates to corporate de-regulation/taxing candidates? Target, Best Buy, and 3M just got caught. Target wasn’t giving to Emmer because of his anti-LGBT views but because he was for lower corporate taxes. I don’t understand why Target gets all the negative press when there are companies that give similar, if not larger donations to conservative candidates AND have zero LGBT protections/benefits like ExxonMobil, and there are so many other companies that helped social conservatives get elected in 2010. The family of the founder of Franklin Templeton Investments gave $1.1mil to Yes on 8. The founder of Urban Outfitters is notorious for giving to anti-LGBT groups. And so on.

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