The big-box retailer said today that it would spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025. The plan includes adding products from more than 500 Black-owned businesses across the assortment and partnering with more Black-owned firms, such as marketing agencies, construction companies, suppliers and maintenance facilities, among others.
“We have a rich history of working with diverse businesses, but there’s more we can do to spark change across the retail industry, support the Black community and ensure Black guests feel welcomed and represented when they shop at Target,” Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief growth officer at Target, said in a statement. “The bold actions we’re announcing today reflect Target’s ongoing commitment to advance racial equity for the Black community. They also represent significant economic opportunity for hundreds of new Black-owned companies, who we look forward to doing business with for years to come.”
Target is also establishing the Forward Founders program, a team of Target representatives who will advise Black business owners on growing their businesses.
“This program will engage Black entrepreneurs earlier in their start-up journey to help them navigate the critical stages of ideation, product development and scaling for mass retail,” the company said in a statement. “With increased access to subject matter experts and educational workshops earlier in the start-up process, Forward Founders is designed to help Black-owned businesses increase their potential for long-term success in retail.”
But this isn’t the first time the retailer has pledged to support the Black community.
Last June, Target said Juneteenth — the day marking the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery — would be an annual company holiday moving forward. The company’s Minneapolis headquarters will be closed each June 19, with stores and distribution centers remaining open.
Granted the majority of in-store and distribution center employees are Black, representatives from Target said hourly associates who worked received time and a half. Other eligible team members have the option to take the day off with full pay. Eligibility is based on hours worked, according to a Target representative.
The same month, Target said the company, along with the Target Foundation, would invest $10 million to nonprofit partners focused on addressing issues affecting Black communities, while also offering continued resources, such as pro bono consulting services for Black- and people-of-color-owned businesses in the Twin Cities area.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd last spring, followed by subsequent protests as well as riots and looting in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis, the retailer responded by temporarily closing 47 of its stores in the area. The company also provided basic first aid, food, water and other essentials to the Twin Cities community, while Target said it would engage local leaders and officials to learn how it can better serve the Minneapolis-St. Paul community. In addition, employees at the 2500 East Lake Street Target store in Minneapolis, which was heavily damaged during riots and had to temporarily close as a result, received up to 14 days of pay during the closure, including COVID-19 premium pay. (The store reopened in November 2020.)
In September, Target said it would increase its representation of Black team members by 20 percent over the next three years. The following month, Target said it would contribute $1 million over the next five years to the National Racial Equity Initiative, a program that selects Black college students to be social justice policy fellows in Congress for a 12-month period.
Also last year, the retailer established the Racial Equity Action and Change Committee, a group of senior-level leaders who help guide Target’s effort to “engage in the fight to end systemic racism in the U.S. and drive lasting impact for the Black community,” according to the company.
With consumers increasingly concerned about supporting businesses that share their values — and in the wake of a string of protests against police brutality as the Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd continues in Minneapolis — retailers have been under pressure to show that they are taking active steps to advance racial equity.
Many have responded by donating money to nonprofits that support communities of color. Others have pledged to dedicate more shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Walmart said it would donate $100 million by 2025 to the Center for Racial Equity to address racial disparities in the U.S. Nike said it would donate $125 million during the same time period to address racial inequality. American Eagle Outfitters is encouraging its associates to take a stand against systemic racism. The retailer said last year that it would spend $5 million toward college expenses of employees who have a track record of promoting social justice issues within their communities.
Gap Inc. said it would double the number of Black and Latine employees across all levels at its U.S. headquarters by 2025, in addition to increasing representation of Black employees by 50 percent in store leadership roles. Ulta Beauty pledged to double the number of Black-owned brands in its assortment by the end of 2021, while pumping more than $4 million into marketing efforts to promote those brands. Macy’s launched exclusive collections from at least five Black fashion designers this spring.