Standing up for equality is one of the most important things a leader and a business can do – something that could not be more important right now. Target is continuing to face a foul protest for its transgender-friendly bathroom policy. It is wonderful to see Brian Cornell, Target's CEO, standing up on behalf of basic fairness, decency, and dignity for transgender people.
More than a million people have signed a petition to boycott Target due to its transgender-friendly bathroom policy. The American Family Association has organised the petition, claiming that Target’s policy endangers women and children. There is no evidence to suggest this, and no evidence that anti-transgender legislation would protect women and children.
Target wrote admirably on its website: “Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.
“In our stores, we demonstrate our commitment to an inclusive experience in many ways. 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. Everyone deserves to feel like they belong. And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”
The Daily Beast published a wonderful article pointing out to the boycotters that their boycott needs to get a lot bigger if they want to stop supporting any company that supports transgender people. Samantha Allen wrote: “Money spent at these businesses helps to normalize a culture in which transgender people are seen as valid and worthy of special protection.” She goes on to highlight some of the 407 businesses that achieved a perfect 100 score on the Corporate Equality Index, a Human Rights Campaign survey that measures LGBT support.
They include technology, food, pharmaceutical, entertainment, banking, aviation and clothing giants such as: Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Walgreens, CVS, American, United, Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Volkswagen, Nike, Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, IKEA, JCPenney, Sears, Nordstrom, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Kroger, DirecTV, Sirius XM Radio, Sony, Universal, Paramount, Disney, Warner Bros, Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner. And of course all Virgin companies stand for equality too.
Target is being targeted for doing the right thing, not the easy thing. It is great to see so many fellow business leaders standing alongside Target and the rights of all people to feel they belong. The B Team is among those who have sent messages of support, encouraging other business leaders and consumers to have the moral courage to stand up with them and to encourage people to continue shopping with them.
We need more brave leaders who ensure that people’s basic human rights are protected and commend Target on their position. Those who stand up for LGBT rights are on the right side of history.