The blog post was not inaccurate, nor did it announce any change in policy. And yet, simply by mentioning transgender issues, Target found itself in the midst of a public relations firestorm that took the top executive of the chain by surprise. In response to the controversial North Carolina state law (since overturned) that required people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender at birth, regardless of their current identification, some Target store managers asked for clarification of the chain’s policies. Target provided internal memos, assuring these managers that its policy was the same as it always had been: Employees and customers were welcome to use the bathroom that corresponded with the gender with which they identified. But then it went a step further and published a blog post reiterating this support, somehow without ever notifying the CEO that the post was going up online. For protesters who consider transgender rights and accommodations problematic, publicizing this position led them to boycott the store, cutting up their Target cards in protest. At the same time, transgender rights groups praised Target for taking a stand. The overall impact on Target’s sales is not completely clear, but ultimately, the difficulty appears to be that Target’s internal communications were insufficient. The CEO now mandates that any public comment on controversial topics go through him first.
Source: Khadeeja Shafer, The New York Times, April 5, 2017