Over the last few months, retail giant Target Corp. has been desperately cutting costs and canceling long-planned growth programs to regain profitability. As part of its scrambling to finally get into the black, the chain has also been firing top executives, and last week yet another top officer’s scalp was taken.
On Thursday Target announced that chief innovation and strategy officer Casey Carl was leaving the company after 20 years on the job. Casey is at least the fifth top executive to leave the company recently, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Despite firing its top innovation officer, Target CEO Brian Cornell released a statement insisting that “Innovation is alive and well at Target.”
The move might not be a complete shock considering that as its stock price and profits tumbled, early this year the company abruptly canceled two once highly touted innovation and growth projects aimed at bringing Target into the future of retail. Despite these moves, Cornell still claims that “Innovation must be a mind-set, an essential component of every business, every strategy and every team.”
Carl joins a growing list of top officers shown the door at the nationwide retailer. Also fired in the last two years has been Target’s head of stores, head of marketing, its human resources boss, and its chief digital officer.
The scrambling comes after Target suffered three disastrous quarters of sales declines in a row and a loss of over $15 billion this year. The losses came after its April of 2016 announcement that it intended to allow men pretending to be women to use any bathroom or changing room they want to use at any given time.
The announcement sparked millions of people to boycott the company. In one particular case a #BoycottTarget petition organized by the American Family Association has surpassed 1.5 million signatures.
Since April of last year, the company’s brand name has taken a drubbing, and its stock has fallen from a high of $84.14 to $54.78 a share. The fall was bad enough that many investment advisers downgraded Target to a “strong sell” even as its falling price might seem to make it an attractive buy.
This April Target’s CEO was reported as having opposed his own company’s transgender announcement, saying it “frustrated” him that his diversity department made such a fuss over the decision and that they didn’t clear the announcement with him first. Cornell thought the whole situation was mishandled and caused a massive backlash against the company. Insiders say he ultimately backed the policy but felt “stuck” with it.
Target’s focus on transgender rights has prompted it to end the use of single-sex bathrooms and changing rooms. The same trend is underway nationally, where pro-transgender laws are eliminating single-sex facilities and institutions.
In December, a poll showed that only 22.7 percent of respondents endorsed the transgender claim that people should be allowed to change their recorded sex or “gender identity” on government documents whenever they wish. In contrast, 44.6 percent of respondents said people should be allowed to switch their legal sex, but only after first complying with medical or government criteria for male and female characteristics. Twenty-three percent opposed any sex-related change to identity documents, and 17.1 percent declined to answer.
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