Why Won’t HRC Stop Telling LGBT Consumers to Shop At Target? (Updated)

Candidates for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are being quite candid on where they stand on Target’s introduction to their fair city: “No frickin’ way!” That’s quite a different position being taken by the Human Rights Campaign, which has yet to adjust Target’s Corporate Equality Index score, a numerical figure that HRC uses to actively encourage LGBT consumers to shop at certain companies. Update: Target is standing down.

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Having failed to convince Target to make good on its donation to the Tom Emmer-backing PAC by donating to a pro-gay candidate, HRC is still, theoretically, helping the company by refusing to amend its Corporate Equality Index score for the company. Nor is HRC taking a position on a consumer boycott of the retailer.

Speaking to HRC spokesflack Fred Sainz, Michelangelo Signorile relays:

Signorile:…The [Corporate] Equality Index is a position on the boycott, because the reason you give the equality index is to tell people where to shop…

Sainz: No, that’s not true.

Signorile:…and what companies they should support.

Sainz: No, no, that’s not true. The Corporate Equality Index is a measure of the workplace practices of companies. It essence was started as a guide for the best employers are for LGBT people…It is not meant to be a statement on a company’s holistic behavior. It is rather a measurement of the workplace practices of a company. That’s really–-

Signorile: HRC does tell people to shop at equality-friendly businesses, even has an app that is devoted to that.

Sainz: That is true.

Signorile: Okay, so the equality-friendly businesses are those that score high on the Corporate Equality Index.

Sainz: That is true…

Signorile: So right now, at this moment, Target still has a 100, and that means that’s a good place to shop.

Sainz insists HRC doesn’t want to make a “knee jerk” reaction to Target’s political donations, though it’s difficult to see how responding to the corporation’s $150,000 donation to a PAC that’s seeking to elect an anti-gay candidate by at least deleting the relevant 15 points from the CEI score is a rash decision. And thus, HRC’s own iPhone app dedicated to telling consumers which LGBT-friendly companies to shop at continues to direct dollars to Target.

We already learned PFLAG’s integrity can be bought by Target. And while HRC says Target can no longer sponsor its Minneapolis dinner, nor will HRC accept any cash from them again (for now), the organization still refuses to find its backbone and tell consumers, Hey, you might wanna shop elsewhere. Pussies.

So for now, we’re left with more on-location antics, this time from Queer Rising in Wisconsin:

UPDATE: It took a round of lambasting by the blogs, as it usually does, but HRC is finally making a smart move with Target and Best Buy, and the scores it gives them. In a statement, HRC press secretary Michael Cole says the companies are being removed from the organization’s CEI, but will not actively discourage LGBT consumers from shopping there.

The recent political contributions by Target and Best Buy are cause for reflection on the criteria used for future editions of the Corporate Equality Index (CEI). While considering all of this, it’s important to keep in mind that the CEI has made a tremendous impact in the real lives of LGBT people in large part because it has been a predictable and transparent roadmap for companies to institute fair workplace policies. Instead of making capricious decisions about scoring criteria, we believe that a responsible consideration of all of the facts is the smartest way to move forward.

Already complicated, the Citizens United decision has made campaign finance issues even more complex. HRC is thoughtfully studying the many ramifications of political giving by companies in this new reality.

The CEI, upon which the Buyer’s Guide is based, was completed in June 2009. Under that set of criteria, both Target and Best Buy scored 100 percent. The Buyer’s Guide available on our website was released in November 2009 and is representative of the information known to us at the time. Because we understand the impact of leaving Target and Best Buy on the various products associated with the Buyer’s Guide, both companies will soon be removed from it.

HRC will not encourage people to shop at either store and believes that consumers should make their own decisions after careful consideration of all of the information available to them.

And Your Boycott of Target Can Remain Forever: Don’t Expect Them to Donate Any Money to Pro-LGBT Candidates