Facing a Massive Boycott, Target CEO Doubles Down on Support of LGBTQ Rights (Video)

Human Rights

CNBC interviewed Target’s CEO Brian Cornell on Wednesday and discussed the company’s liberal stance against discriminatory laws like North Carolina’s HB2. Target now is experiencing a massive backlash and boycott by an anti LGBTQ conservative organization called American Family Association. It’s reported that AFA has 1.2 million signatures on its petition — people pledging to not shop at Target stores because of the retail chain’s pro-LGBTQ position.

Brian Cornell is not only unabashed and unapologetic about his company’s support of transgender and pro-LGBTQ rights, he doubles down on the decision with no indication of changing his mind. Cornell adds that Target has always been about diversity and has had “family” bathrooms for many years. Also he adds that safety has always been the priority for customers. Like many around the country, this issue is not about “safety” and Cornell believes people have a right to use the bathroom that aligns with their own gender identity. 

Here is a transcript of the interview followed by the YouTube video clip:

CNBC Squawk Box: Brian, speaking of challenges, businesses have wound up really in the middle of dealing with this North Carolina bathroom law. You guys are no exception to that. I think Target’s policy was to allow people to use the bathroom of their choice. I see here the American Family Association has a boycott going of your stores now. How are you gonna continue to navigate this one?

Cornell responds:

Target CEO Brian Cornell: Kelly, we've had a long history of embracing diversity and inclusion. A couple of weeks ago, I had one of our team members send me a note reminding me that if we went back to the mid sixties, our company was one of the very first to use African-American models in their advertising. And back then, it wasn't well received. We had a lot of tough feedback, but sitting here today, we know we made the right decision. And I certainly recognize that the stance we took, which, by the way, was very similar to many of our retail peers, has received quite a bit of feedback and as a company we're constantly listening. So we listen to our guests, we listen to our team members.

But what's been lost in this story is the fact that the vast majority of our stores—actually over 1,400 of our stores—already have a family restroom. And we're committed over the next few months to make sure every one of our stores has that option, because we want our guests to be welcomed in our stores. 

But if there's a question of safety, I can tell you and others—our focused on safety is unwavering, and we want to make sure we provide a welcoming environment for all our guests one that safe, one that's comfortable, and that's our commitment over time. 

​So, we took a stance and we're going to continue to embrace our belief of diversity inclusion and just how important it is to our company, but we're also going to make sure our focus on state is unwavering and we're going to provide a great environment for our guests to shop every time they’re in out stores.

Cheers to Brian Cornell, Target and all the many businesses, the musicians, and the everyday American citizens who are coming out to protest discrimination and also to let  the transgender/LGBTQ community know, “We’ve got your back.” And to Target, we got your back as well — expect us. 

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