CNBC reports on comments made by Target CEO Brian Cornell at an event hosted by the Economic Club of Chicago, in which he talked about being "shaken" by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who subsequently was found guilty of the murder on three counts.
“That could have been one of my Target team members,” Cornell said he remembers thinking.
Cornell noted that he was raised as the child of a single mother in a diverse neighborhood of Queens - the borough of New York City often described as the most ethnically diverse urban area of the world - but the Floyd murder prompted him to do more within his company.
“I recognize that it’s time to take it to another level, and that as CEOs, we have to be the company’s head of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “We have to be the role models that drive change and our voice is important. And we’ve got to make sure that we represent our company principles, our values, our company purpose on the issues that are important to our teams.”
CNBC writes that "last May, in the days that immediately followed, Cornell said Target put together a special committee to look at steps the company could take to make its workforce, C-suite and business practices better reflect the country’s diversity. He said Target considered how it could support and provide advancement opportunities for Black employees, play a role in communities and 'use our voice on a national level, as we impact civic discussions and policy.'
"Target is one of many companies that have pledged to do more to advance racial equity after Floyd’s murder prompted protests in major cities and across the globe. Among its commitments, the big-box retailer said it would increase representation of Black employees across its workforce by 20% over the next year. The company created a new program to help Black entrepreneurs develop, test and scale products to sell at mass retailers like Target. And it promised to spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025, from construction companies that build or remodel stores to advertising firms that market its brand.
"Cornell touted the diversity of Target’s workforce of more than 350,000 employees, including its board and leadership team. Over half of its approximately 1,900 stores are led by female store directors and over a third are led by people of color, Cornell said."
Last week's guilty verdict in the case was seen as "a sign of progress, a sign of accountability," Cornell said, but with it came "a recognition that the work is just starting."
- KC's View:
There are a lot of issues that business leaders probably should be careful about addressing, but this isn't one of them.
This is a matter of creating a workforce that looks and thinks like its shoppers, but also have an understanding of the unique cultural challenges facing one component of the workforce and customer base. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to have "the talk" with my children, in the way that Black parents must … and yet, I think that CEOs must not just imagine it, but act as leaders to address issues that the people on whom their success depends.