If Target Corp. has learned anything from wading into the murky bog of social justice activism, it’s that pissing off a large segment of your clientele to virtue signal to another segment is a poor business move.
Heads have been rolling in the retail giant’s boardroom ever since Target announced in April 2016 that it would open its restrooms to people of both genders. The proclamation came just after the North Carolina “bathroom bill” had been passed into law and the topic was still particularly heated, with critics claiming that ungendered bathrooms would make women and children vulnerable to harassment.
Almost immediately, a “boycott Target” campaign went viral on the Internet and the effects were immediate. Since April of last year, Target’s stock has fallen from $84.14 to $54.78 a share and sales have persistently declined for three quarters in a row, resulting in a loss of over $15 billion this year alone.
Within the last two years, Target has fired its head of stores, head of marketing, human resources boss, and chief digital officer. Now, chief innovation and strategy officer has been added to the list of Target casualties after two decades on the job, making him the fifth top-level employee to be kicked to the curb as the company tries to make its way back into the black.
Target also appears to be distancing itself from its inflammatory bathroom policy in an attempt to trade integrity for profits: CEO Brian Cornell claimed that he was not informed that his diversity department had taken a stance on the issue and suggested that he was “stuck” with the controversy instead of bringing it about on his own.