Target vows to increase number of Black staff

Target representatives participated in the fall 2019 People of Color Career Fair at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. plans to increase its number of Black employees by 20 percent over the next three years as part of its growing efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive company, executives said.

The retailer last week announced its latest commitment to racial equity as it also made public more detailed information about the ethnic and gender makeup of its employees and leaders.

Target’s total workforce last year was 360,000, with 25 percent of employees Latino, 15 percent Black, 5 percent Asian and 5 percent people who identified as mixed race, American Indian or other underrepresented groups.

However, the diversity is less the higher the position, with 61 percent of managers, 71 percent of company officers and 75 percent of Target’s leadership team being white. For example, Black employees account for only 5 percent of Target’s executives or senior level officials and managers.

“That data really reveals the need for some additional focus on the advancement and retention of our Black team members,” said Kiera Fernandez, Target’s vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “So in addition to sharing this workforce diversity data in a disaggregated way, we know that we also have to make some systemic changes to increase the representation of our Black team members across the company.”

Target is more balanced in terms of gender diversity with 58 percent of all employees and 42 percent of its leadership team being female.

Census numbers show that the largest minority groups in the U.S. are Latinos, who make up 18.5 percent of the population, and Black people, who make up about 13 percent.

Last week’s diversity report was the most detailed Target has ever released. Company executives said the company will start to release the details annually.

After the Memorial Day death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Target announced a range of different initiatives to address racial inequity within its company and surrounding communities.

The retailer pledged $10 million to social justice organizations and community rebuilding efforts after unrest — during which Target’s Lake Street store was destroyed — and protests following Floyd’s death. Target also established a Racial Equity Action and Change (REACH) committee whose action plan includes sourcing more products from Black creators.

Target has been subject to accusations of racial bias such as in July when a Muslim woman filed a discrimination complaint against Target after a Starbucks barista at a St. Paul store wrote “ISIS” on her cup instead of her name. Target said the incident was unintentional.

As part of its REACH goals, Target announced last week its plans to help increase advancement opportunities and reduce the turnover of Black employees by providing them with broader pathways to advance in the company, strengthening the network of mentors, and developing programs to hire and retain Black workers in positions with historically low levels of representation, including technology, data sciences, merchandising and marketing.

The company also plans to enhance bias training it already conducts and offer anti-racist training for employees to help foster a more inclusive workplace.

“One of the things I’m particularly proud of is our longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion at Target,” said Melissa Kremer, Target’s chief human resources officer. “It’s absolutely core to who we are. ... We believe it’s imperative to give everyone access to the same opportunities and also really focus on fostering a culture where all people are respected and valued.”

Last month, retailer Best Buy also made public its plans to hire more than 1,000 new tech employees in the next couple years committing that 30 percent will be people of color or women.

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