Target CEO Apologizes for Hurting People's Feelings

After coming under fire for his company's donations to a political action group supporting right-wing Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel wrote a letter apologizing to his company's employees for... hurting their feelings?

In case you haven't received one of the four dozen forwards going around, big box store Target donated around $150,000 of money and services to a group called MN Forward. That group, which describes itself as "pro-business," used Target's money to run an ad supporting Republican Tom Emmer for Governor of Minnesota. Tom Emmer is anti-gay marriage, and pretty nuts besides, and Target's apparent support of him—while trumpeting its backing of Minnesota gay events and groups, and its progressive employment policies—led in turn to calls for a boycott and people burning their Isaac Mizrahi tanktops in the public square and so forth.

(As Abe Sauer points out, this is not exactly a new look for CEO Steinhafel (that's him on the right), or Target executives, who have long supported right-wing candidates because of the whole "lower taxes" thing that rich people love so much.)

Anyway. Minnesota Public Radio reports Steinhafel has written a letter of apology to Target employees, and while it's a nice gesture, we guess, it isn't exactly an about-face. In it, he only expresses sorrow at "affecting many [employees] in a way [he] did not anticipate" (which is the corporate-apology equivalent of "sorry if you're such a crybaby that you were offended").

It's also a signal, basically, that Target doesn't have any real plans to donate to pro-gay marriage candidates, or renounce their PAC's support of Emmer. Big surprise. Here's the whole apology:

Dear Target Leaders,

I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target's contribution to MN Forward, and I appreciate your engagement and candor, both of which clearly demonstrate your loyalty and passion for our company.

In situations like this, it is often difficult to find the right words, but I would like to respond with the same honesty you have shown me.

The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.

We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.

Going forward, we will soon begin a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena. And later this fall, Target will take a leadership role in bringing together a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.

Thank you for sharing your input and for your continued commitment to making Target an even stronger company.

Sincerely,
Gregg Steinhafel
Chairman, President and CEO

[Minnesota Public Radio; pic via AP]