Target workers say the abrupt removal of Pride month displays has alienated some LGBTQ employees
- Target abruptly removed Pride month feature displays from dozens of stores in Southern states.
- The move came days after Target's CEO said the company's DEI initiatives were "good for business."
Target has abruptly taken down front-of-store displays of Pride celebration merchandise at dozens of stores in Southern states, leaving some LGBTQ employees feeling alienated and frustrated.
The decision was handed down from the company's corporate offices late on Friday, according to three employees in Florida. Two of the workers who spoke with Insider said they are LGBTQ and were feeling frustrated and alienated following Friday's action. The employees spoke anonymously for fear of professional consequences as they are not authorized to speak to the media, but Insider verified their identities and employment.
Their remarks reflect dozens of comments bubbling up on social media sites like Reddit, where users identifying as Target employees said the company was letting down the LGBTQ community. (Insider did not confirm the Reddit users' employment).
In a podcast interview published just days earlier, CEO Brian Cornell touted the company's commitment to representing "all the families" who shop at Target, and defended his diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as "just the right things for our business today."
In the interview, Cornell sidestepped a question about anti-"woke" backlash from the state's Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who is engaged in an escalating feud with Disney over DEI issues.
A transgender friendly swimsuit in particular has sparked outrage among conservatives on social media, as well as a line of merchandise from a designer they deem "satanic."
A Target spokesperson told Insider the move was a response to "threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and wellbeing" and said that the store would remove specific items that have been the center of the most controversy.
But an LGBTQ employee said there was no mention of safety in the display-removal instructions they received via an internal messaging system.
"The communication provided to us explicitly said the decision to move these items was to replace them with swimwear to better meet our sales goals. Not once was safety mentioned," the worker said.
They also said last year's Pride display remained up for the entire month of June.
A second employee told Insider that guests called and emailed his store, accusing the company of "grooming" and "indoctrinating" kids with the selection of Pride-themed apparel.
A similar display for Black History month earlier this year had not been changed, he said, but the Pride signs have now been removed and the merchandise is now on smaller shelves near the center of the store. The front-of-store showcase is now promoting swimwear.
A third employee, who is also a member of the LGBTQ community, said they arrived to their shift to find the display already disassembled, and they were tasked with moving the merchandise to a low-traffic area at the back of the store.
The employee, who only recently started working at Target, said the company's stance on diversity was a key reason they chose to work there.
"The inclusion aspect was a big deal to me," they said.
Target's Pride display removal draws sharp reaction on social media
Multiple comments on the r/Target subreddit echoed the sense of alienation expressed by the LGBTQ sources, with one person who said they were transgender saying, "just shows they don't really care about me."
"A place that I work at that supposedly cares about my labor and safety is back-peddling and putting me in harms' way to maximize profit," another user said. "Either you care about the safety and well-being of marginalized people, or you don't. This will make the current climate much worse."
"I want to believe Target is putting TM (and guest) safety as a priority, but I have a feeling it's purely for profits since people are "boycotting" Target," a third Reddit user said.
Both LGBTQ employees told Insider they raised their concerns to their stores' HR managers, who expressed sympathy but told them the decision had come from corporate leadership and had to be followed.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
If you are a Target worker who wants to share your perspective, please contact Dominick Reuter via email or Signal at 646-768-4750. Responses will be kept confidential, and Insider strongly recommends you use a personal email and a nonwork device when reaching out.
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