The CEO of Target Corp. was away meeting suppliers when his top deputies destroyed $20 billion in company stock value by publicly declaring their support in April 2016 for the very unpopular “gender identity” transgender political agenda, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Target CEO Brian Cornell “expressed frustration” to his deputies once the transgender policy was announced, but also said it would be too risky to publicly withdraw the policy, which has helped alienate customers and slashed the company’s stock value from roughly $50 billion to roughly $30 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“You can’t take it back,” an unnamed source told the Journal’s reporter, Khadeeja Safdar. The source added that Mr. Cornell “felt very stuck’ over the situation. “Target didn’t adequately assess the risk, and the ensuing backlash was self-inflicted, he told staff. Now, it was too late to reverse course,” the paper reported. The decision was announced via the company’s website and social media accounts. In the ensuing weeks, Cornell publicly announced his unqualified support of the policy and defended it on multiple occasions.
When the North Carolina legislature passed its sexual-privacy HB2 bathroom bill in April of 2016, Target jumped out as the first major corporation to give full-throated support for the unpopular transgender claim that men who say they are women should be allowed to use women’s bathrooms and changing rooms.
The company’s revenues, profits, and stock value dropped quickly after the announcement, which said that store managers would eliminate single-sex bathrooms and changing rooms to help provide a welcoming atmosphere for transgender customers who comprise far less than 1 percent of the population. The company sank faster once a major boycott of Target was launched by the American Family Association, whose petition garnered over a million signatures in a matter of weeks.
At first, Cornell explained away the lost customers as a result of the “harsh winter weather” experienced across the nation over the 2016 winter months. But that excuse quickly began to look increasingly absurd as the company’s profit margins and stock prices continued to fall in each of the succeeding months through the year and even into 2017.
Other national retailers experienced ups and downs over the same period, Target’s profits and stocks fell much harder than its competitors and continued to fall after the others began seeing some improvement.
By February of this year, Target had experienced a $15 billion loss. But the fall continued. By March of this year, Target’s stock price had fallen to roughly $53 a share, down from its 2016 high of $84 a share.
While many other U.S. retailers have similar policies, only Target made a big spectacle out of the decision. According to the Journal, Target essentially made the bold announcement that anyone who disagrees with its policy is a bigot.
“Target picked a side and pretty much said to the rest of us that we don’t matter,” customer Mary McCandless of Winston-Salem, N.C. told the told a pollster cited by the Journal. “They should have just left it as, ‘don’t ask, don’t show, don’t tell.'”
The company has seen such a troubled economic outlook that it dropped several high profile, but costly, projects upon which it had pinned its hopes for future growth. The announcement of the shuttering of the two major expansion projects came as a sudden and unexpected move to analysts.
By contrast, even as Target has taken a continued beating, the State of North Carolina didn’t experience much of an economic hit at all, even with multiple boycotts by sports teams and entertainers.
Despite the failure of the boycotts to have economic consequences, local business groups pressure GOP leaders and the new Democratic governor to write a new law. That new law, HB-142, preserves the state’s support for sexual privacy in bathrooms, despite pressure from Democrats allied with the transgender movement.
The state’s new law is a big win for voters and legislators around the country who wish to block the effort by “gender identity” activists to eliminate legal and civic distinctions between the equal, popular and complementary preferences of men and women, such as single-sex bathrooms. In general, gay and transgender activists are trying to impose a “‘genderless society” on Americans, in which the government would encourage damaging lawsuits against any facility or group that recognizes the differences between the two sexes. Unfortunately for Target and its shareholders, several top level managers support that “genderless society” agenda
Unfortunately for Target and its shareholders, several top managers at the company were pushing that “genderless society” agenda in April 2016 when they wrecked the company’s stock value by declaring the company’s support for transgender bathrooms and changing rooms.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.