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At Target, 'we do not have a political or social agenda'

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Gregg Steinhafel
The CEO of Target Corp., Gregg Steinhafel, in his office overlooking the downtown Minneapolis skyline.
MPR Photo/Tom Crann

(Editor's note: We've invited commentaries from officials at Target and other businesses that made controversial donations in support of Tom Emmer, the endorsed GOP candidate for governor. The Target communications staff suggested instead that we publish CEO Gregg Steinhafel's July 27 memo to Target employees, and the subsequent short statement responding to a newspaper ad placed by the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for gay rights. We offer the memo and statement here.) 

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A Message to Target Team Members from Gregg Steinhafel, Target Chairman, President & CEO

Dear Target Team,

In the past week I've heard from some of you, including our GLBT team members, regarding your concerns with Target's recent contributions to MN Forward, an independent expenditure committee that is supported by a broad coalition of large and small businesses throughout the state, including the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. 

  As you know, Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state's job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.

  In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear: Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company. Some current examples of that support include:

  Domestic partner benefits.

Sponsorship of Twin Cities Pride.

Sponsorship of Out & Equal Workplace Summit.

  In addition, Target's rating of 100 percent on the 2009 and 2010 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index further demonstrates the reputation our company has earned.

  As CEO, I consider it my responsibility to create conditions in which Target can thrive, and I promise to do so with the best interests of our guests, team, shareholders and communities in mind. I appreciate your input and understanding.

  Gregg Steinhafel, Chairman, President and CEO, Target

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July 30 response to the Human Rights Campaign ad:

Target understands the concerns of the HRC. We have had multiple conversations with the HRC during the past few weeks and will continue our constructive dialogue. Target respects the work of the HRC and appreciates our partnership with them over the years. We hope to continue to work with the HRC in a spirit of mutual cooperation.

  At Target, we listen to our guests, our team members and our communities -- and we have heard them on this issue. We are committed to doing better and regret that we have let down our team members and guests. We are evaluating ways to make sure they know the high value we place on our relationships with them.