MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Target stirred up controversy last year by vocally supporting transgender bathroom use. The backlash that ensued is still haunting the company today.
Last year, North Carolina passed legislation which required transgender people to use the bathroom of their biological gender in government buildings. It became a hot-button issue sparking conversation nationwide.
In a blog post published in April 2016, Target came out against the so-called “bathroom bill” stating a policy of inclusivity.
“Most relevant for the conversations currently underway, we welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity,” the post said. “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”
Loyal customers weren’t the only ones surprised by the statement. A new report from The Wall Street Journal says Target CEO Brian Cornell never approved the blog post.
The next day the American Family Association called for a boycott, saying Target’s stance was an open door for sexual predators. In a matter of days, the boycott pledge garnered over 182,000 signatures. Currently the pledge has 1.4 million signatures.
According to colleagues of Cornell, he was frustrated with the choice to “flaunt” the company’s policy, and that the backlash was “self-inflicted.”
Instead of trying to walk back the statement, The Wall Street Journal reports Cornell decided to tough it out in hopes the backlash would die down. A year later, the backlash persists. Target’s earnings have fell each quarter following the April 2016 statements. As Alpha News previously reported, Target’s estimates for 2017 fall below the expectations of industry experts.
Target’s stock shows how dismal the situation is with shares at the lowest level since 2014.
Even with what appears to be a direct correlation between the boycott and a dip in profits, Target executives refuse to connect the two events.
“Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores,” Cornell wrote in a press release.
Last month, North Carolina repealed the “bathroom bill” that started the controversy for Target.