Target has been in the conservative crosshairs for years now. The national corporation faced immediate backlash when it announced it would stop labeling toys as specifically for boys and girls. In 2016, they’ve faced ongoing criticism over their bathroom policies, but Target CEO Brian Cornell has made it clear the company isn’t going to compromise on their values. Currently, the chain encourages customers to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
During an interview on CNBC, Cornell spoke about Target’s long history of civil rights. He mentioned that in the 1960s, Target was one of the first companies to use African American models in their ads. Although this move was criticized, the company knew it was making the right decision. In hindsight, few would argue with their decision today. Cornell then explained that over 1,400 Target stores currently have a family restroom. These large, single-stall options allow anyone worried over safety – transgendered individuals or families with small children – to use the restroom in a private setting.
Despite this solution to everyone’s problems, Target is facing a large conservative boycott. The American Family Association has gathered over 1 million signatures on a petition from shopper promising to not head to Target this year. They claim that women and girls will be subject to male predators harassing them in the women’s restroom and dismiss the single-stall option as not addressing the root problem.
North Carolina passed HB2 in March 2016. This bill, also called the “bathroom bill,” made it a crime for transgendered individuals to use a bathroom that did not correspond to their biological sex at birth. Activists immediately criticized the bill, and North Carolina faced a quick economic impact as corporations and the NCAA moved business activities out of the state. Governor Pat McCrory, who spearheaded the bill and has complained extensively about the criticisms he’s received over his role in promoting discrimination, is currently locked in an election dispute with his rival, Democrat Roy Cooper. Cooper won more votes in the recent election, but Governor McCrory is refusing to concede.
Political activists from the liberal perspective are now counter-boycotting Target. They’re calling for signatures to their petition support the retailor. Business analysts will have to wait until after the holidays to see the economic impact of Target’s policies.