Economics of Liberty

Shareholders Call Out Target CEO Over Bathroom Policy

By Amber Randall

Angry Target shareholders gathered Wednesday at an annual shareholder’s meeting with the company’s CEO and chairman, Brian Cornell, to discuss Target’s transgender bathroom policy.

Target’s recent bathroom policy encourages people to use the bathroom and changing room that reflects their gender identity — not the gender on their birth certificate. This policy has outraged many, and 1.3 million people even signed a petition back in April stating they would not shop at Target because of it.

Before the meeting, shareholders voted on a proposal by Justin Danhof, the director of the conservative-leaning Free Enterprise Project at the National Center for Public Policy Research. His resolution focused on whether it was prudent for Target to involve itself so heavily in an issue to the point it offends consumers. His proposal suggested “investors should be given a lens into the company’s policy decision-making progress.” The proposal failed, as shareholders overwhelmingly voted it down.

A couple of audience members, along with Danhof, asked Cornell whether Target’s bathroom policy was a wise idea.

“I have a quick two-part question: Is it the company’s position that Americans who prefer to undress only near people of the same physical gender are bigots, the moral equivalent of racists? And second, since Target could have avoided most of this controversy, do you have any regrets about taking, as the financial analyst put it, “a hard-line stance” that, regardless of your intention, has made many Americans feel unwelcome at Target?” Danhof asked Cornell at the meeting.

Cornell responded, “We believe in diversity, we believe in inclusion, and everyone should feel safe in our stores,” according to Danhof.

Danhof also brought up the fact that Target’s stock share had plummeted by about 18 percent.

Cathy R. Smith, Target’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, claimed that Target’s bathroom policy had  “no material impact” on their business.

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