How to Respond When Employees are Targeted

All decisions a company makes should be in accordance with its values. Values are established during times of calm, so they can serve as the guiding light inn times of turmoil. Values define a company’s culture and set the expectations of employees, vendors and customers. So, what is happening here?

Target pulled some LGBTQ+ items from its Pride Month collection after employees received threats. Kayla Castañeda, company spokesperson, said “given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”

What facts do we know now? Target has over 2,000 items in its Pride Collection. It is not removing all or even most of these items from its Pride Month collection. Target’s partnership with designer, Abprallen, is receiving most of the uproar on social media. The British designer is an alleged Satanist, has clothing with the slogan “Satan Respects Pronouns,” but Target has never carriedany products referencing Satan.

Target has several stakeholders to consider. The safety of its employees. The interests (and safety) of its customers. The agreement with its supplier. The returns for its shareholders.

Target needs to consider the messages each of these stakeholders hear as a result of this action. I won’t attempt to list them all, but imagine these are a few of the louder ones. Target will do anything to protect our employees. Target cowers to threats of violence by extremists. Target promotes a gay lifestyle. Target supports a person’s right to choose a lover and/or an identity.

The stated values of Target are:

Inclusivity: We value diverse voices and approaches. We act with authenticity and respect. We create equitable experiences for all.

Connection: We build trusted relationships. We collaborate across business functions. We recognize and celebrate progress.

Drive: We do what is right for Target, our team & guests. We deliver results that matter. We continually learn by valuing progress over perfection.

If its decision was made through a values-based lens, the following questions were asked:

Does the removal of a few items in a collection of over 2,000 items promote inclusivity? Does it move Target closer to creating an equitable experience for all?

This designer is being removed from the shelves of Target. Does this decision build a trusted relationship?

Is this decision right for Target, its team and guests?

Target received 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign. What does this mean? Target scored perfectly in the following categories:

Workforce Protections: Policy includes sexual orientation for all operations. Policy includes gender identity or expression for all operations.

Inclusive Benefits. Equivalency in same- and different-sex spousal medical and soft benefits. Equivalency in same- and different-sex domestic partner medical and soft benefits. Equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care

Supporting an Inclusive Culture & Corporate Social Responsibility: Three LGBTQ Internal Training and Education Best Practices. Employee group –or– Diversity council. Three Distinct Efforts of Outreach or Engagement to Broader LGBTQ Community. LGBTQ Corporate Social Responsibility.

This establishes a track record of targets commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. Does this latest act challenge that? In a free market economy, we’re all the judge and jury of a company’s actions. So, what’s your take? Is Target acting in accordance with its values?