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Target and Rainbow Capitalism's Impact on LGBTQ+ | Chrysalis Mama

June 05, 20233 min read

"... Target could have responded to critics in a way that would have advanced the national conversation surrounding polarizing issues. 

Heather Hester Fox News Digital

I had the incredible opportunity last week to chat with reporter Brian Flood from Fox News Digital about the way Target handled their Pride campaign. We discussed how Target’s missteps have created conversations around how they could have better prepared as well as the greater discussion about Rainbow Capitalism.

Target had the opportunity to learn from what happened with Bud Light and prepare better internally and externally. Internally they could have offered their employees support and tools in the form of education and DEI training. An example of this in action would be coaching on what to say or do when met with an angry customer or hostility. 

Externally they could have been prepared to increase security when and where necessary. They also could have given people a forum to express their concerns so they can have a bigger, more thoughtful conversation instead of letting bullying and intimidation shut down or shift their campaign. This forum could have been in the form of a hotline for questions, concerns, or complaints, or even a townhall in areas where it got particularly hostile. 

I understand that part of the reason Target pulled merchandise off of the shelves was because their employees were threatened and I have compassion for the predicament that put Target management in. Threatening another human being is never okay. But giving into what amounts to intimidation 101 doesn’t get to the root of the fear or misinformation that is fueling it. 

Target is a huge company. They have the resources to have taken this as an opportunity to have conversations and they blew it. Now it is affecting their business because they’ve upset everyone on every side. Furthermore, they’ve shown that their allyship was a thin veil for true rainbow capitalism.

So let’s talk about rainbow capitalism. The basic definition is profiting off of pride merchandise and/or the LGBTQ+ community with no underlying support of LGBTQ+ people or championing of LGBTQ+ causes. 

The LGBTQ+ community makes up approx. 7.1% of the US population and 21% of Gen Z and Millennials consider themselves LGBTQ. According to a range of sources, the LGBTQ+ community alone has $900 billion - $1.4 trillion in spending power. And, that’s not even taking allies into account. This is a considerable number of both human beings and dollars added to the economy. 

Many from the other side of this issue believe that corporations only exist to make money and be accountable to their shareholders. I argue that is but two of the many reasons corporations should exist. They exist to create employment, to offer products and services that better the consumer’s quality of life, to positively affect the communities with which they exist just to name a few reasons. They have the power and the influence to do good in the world, to take a stand and make a difference.

As a mom of LGBTQ kids and an entrepreneur of a company that supports families and children through the coming out process and beyond, what Target did really stung. We all watched a corporation give in to bullies insead of looking inside and figuring out how to protect it’s employees and keep them safe while also not letting the haters win.

Being an ally means standing with and caring for the LGBTQ community regardless. This is a time of strong rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and purposeful misinformation being spread by a very loud minority. It is a perfect example of how fear is used as a motivator to say and do horrific things. Because of the power of social media and the fact that this misinformation is spreading like wildfire, allies and advocates need to be even stronger, more determined, and more rooted in their support and love.

I was really happy with the article that Brian and his producer put together. Check out the full article and interview HERE.

Heather Hester

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