Was the NGLTF too embarrassed to let Target sponsor Creating Change? [Updated]

Looking at the list of sponsors for Creating Change 2011, there’s one notable name missing from the list: Target Corp. According to Minnesota Public Radio’s Laura Yuen, a Target spokesperson spun their absence as an unfortunate victim of circumstance:

“We had discussions with the [National Gay and Lesbian Task Force] about a potential sponsorship, and we kind of mutually agreed that this year’s conference wasn’t the right opportunity for both of us.”

But you can’t help but wonder if Target – until this summer relatively renowned for its very LGBT-friendly workplace policies, and a constant fixture at the top of TC Pride Festival sponsorship lists – was turned away by Task Force officials worried by the embarrassment of having a high-profile donor to Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial campaign on their marquee.

Roybal, deputy executive director of the Task Force, acknowledges that Target’s decision to contribute to a group backing former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage, “still lingers in the minds of many people.”

So how long will Target be in “time out”? We’ve got a call in to Task Force spokespeople, and will update as soon as we know.

Update: Task Force representative Russell Roybal told TheColu.mn that both Target Corp and the Task Force “decided that right now was not the right time for them to sponsor a Task Force conference.”

He added that “we are still in conversations with Target, but we felt that right now was not the right time for them.”

Roybal suggested thatTarget is still exploring ways to repair its reputation with the LGBT community. However, he said the Task Force was discouraging Target from making a big donation by way of penance.

“There’s been a lot of conversations about how to “make good” the donation [to MN Forward, who supported anti-gay gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer]. To me, what’s more important is a long-standing, thoughtful commitment,” Roybal said. “People can make big contributions in the moment that shield them from further scrutiny…but if nothing’s changed internally, I don’t think [a comparable donation] would be worth it.”

Roybal said that the Task Force has encouraged Target to be more public about internal conversations about evaluating future contributions, and about how they may seek to repair their image.

“We recongized that target has a long history of helping LGBT employees…and we didn’t want to rub all that out with one contribution,” he said.

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5 responses to “Was the NGLTF too embarrassed to let Target sponsor Creating Change? [Updated]”

  1. I said the same about Best Buy, but at the same time, they never projected a gay friendly image the way Target did.

    I heard Target offered and got turned down. I would be curious to hear from NGLTF as to why, exactly. Because gay orgs could/should/are approaching Target for sponsorships as a chance to “make up” for what they did and continue to boost/repair their gay-friendly image.

  2. Hi James –

    There’s a conference session Sunday morning (9 am) you should check out. I think it will help answer a lot of your questions about Target’s direction and commitment to the community.

    Target and Best Buy reps came to a Pride board meeting recently to talk about what happened internally after the MN Forward donations. Obviously, it was a donation made without input from community stakeholders. The internal and external outcry helped them understand it was a huge mistake they don’t want to repeat. With a new donation vetting process in place, now the LGBT Employee Business Groups within both organizations have a place at the decision-making table.

    The companies understand they made a mistake, and in the end LGBT employees have a greater voice at the table. Isn’t that equality what we are all working toward?

    So much of this work is being done behind the scenes; this conference session provides an opportunity to hear from Target, Best Buy, General Mills and Outfront.

    I’m really looking forward to it.

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