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08/20/2010

Seeing red: To 'cott or not?

by Jeremy Hooper

TargetIn the aftermath of Target donating money to anti-LGBT gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, The Human Rights Campaign has put out forceful press releases chastising the red-circle company for not making right with the LGBT community by donating an equal sum to a pro-equality candidate. So naturally HRC wants LGBT folks to avoid giving moolah to the retailer, right?

Well, not necessarily:

Michelangelo Signorile: My question is, how is the $150,000 that you’re donating...a punishment to Target?...What are you doing exactly to Target?...Are you joining the boycott? Moveon.org is calling for a boycott.Is HRC telling people they shouldn’t shop at Target?

HRC's Fred Sainz: No, the organization doesn’t have an official position on the boycott. We think that consumers need to make their own decisions and that each person has an awful lot of choices today...And certainly this will inform consumers’ decisions on where they should make their purchases...
...
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 was started as a guide of what the best employers are for LGBT people...It is not meant to be a statement on a company’s wholistic 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.
FULL PIECE AND AUDIO: HRC: Shop at Target [Signorile]

So what's going on? Target is a major presence in Minnesota, so it could be that HRC feels that an all-out boycott might turn off locals, affecting other crucial state races. Or there could be ongoing internal negotiations between HRC and Target that might lead to public boycott hesitancy. Or HRC might not see themselves as in the boycott business, choosing to let others handle those efforts. Or the Archer Farms line of products might just be too popular within the organization's D.C. offices to forfeit in this manner. Who knows?

But right now, there are surely some confused pro-equality consumers wondering where to get their Biore Strips, Brita pitchers, and ass wipes. Someone, preferably Target, needs to move this sensibly-priced ball in a decided direction.

***

*Queer Rising:


***

*UPDATE from HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz:

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.

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