Brian Cornell didn’t feel compelled to discuss the financial state of the company at the Target Corp. annual shareholders meeting Wednesday morning. Instead, the retailer’s chief executive officer used the opportunity to outline where the company stands today “during this pivotal time for our country.”
Target, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, where police killed George Floyd, setting off massive worldwide protests, was hard hit by the backlash, closing some 200 of its stores and sustaining damage to others due to looting.
Cornell said most of those stores have reopened but seven were heavily damaged. Four of those are expected to reopen by the end of the month and the other three will remain shuttered until they are repaired. The company’s Lake Street store in Minneapolis was the hardest hit, but Cornell said Target “will rebuild that store and bring it back online as soon as possible, likely before year’s end.”
In the meantime, the company continues to move essential products such as medicine, food, bottled water, first aid and baby care items to areas heavily damaged during the protests, he said.
Cornell said more stores could have been impacted, but — thanks to grassroots cleanup efforts by community members in Minneapolis as well as those in other cities such as Philadelphia and New York City who “banded together to protect their Target from damage” — the damage was minimized.
He also reiterated that the organization is dedicating $10 million — half from corporate giving and the other half from its foundation — toward “Twin City rapid response needs, local rebuilding efforts and national social justice initiatives.” The company will also provide 10,000 hours of pro bono consulting services to help black and other people of color in the Twin Cities to rebuild.
Cornell pointed to the company’s ability to quickly shift its operating procedures as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the nation as evidence of Target’s ability to follow through on these promises, noting, “We were able to pivot immediately when our guest routines changed.”
Cornell said Target remains “determined to help all families,” despite the fact that “retail companies have been tested” to their core lately. He also understood the high expectations the public has for businesses and communities as a result of the “deep pain of racism and brutality unleashed most recently by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.”
“Our company is forward-thinking, anti-racist, compassionate and open to any perspective that can help us all advance.”
That will include improving the diversity within the company. Cornell said the current board is about “one-third female and just under 50 percent racially and ethnically diverse. Our Target leadership team is more than 40 percent female and one-quarter racially and ethnically diverse. Approximately 30 percent of our stores are run by racially or ethnically diverse leaders, and almost half are run by women. Half of our U.S.-based team is racially or ethnically diverse. But our goal is not to hit a number or check a box. We know a number is not good enough. This is an area we will continually focus on and strive to do even better.”
In response to a shareholder’s question, Melissa Kramer, chief human resources officer, said the corporation remains “incredibly committed” to reaching a permanent wage level of $15 an hour by the end of 2020. The company temporarily bumped wages of frontline workers by $2 an hour during the height of the pandemic when non-essential retailers were forced to close but Target remained open. That wage increase was extended twice. Kramer did not say when it would end, but said those who have worked between March 8 and June 27 will receive a “onetime performance award this summer.”