Target CEO Brian Cornell responded on Wednesday to the backlash the retailer has received in response to its new transgender bathroom policy.
Over 1.2 million people, to date, have signed a petition pledging to boycott until the policy is changed. Since Target’s policy was announced April 19, the company’s stock has dropped approximately 10 percent, or $4.5 billion in market value.
“I certainly recognize that stance we took, which by the way is similar to many of our retail peers, has received quite a bit of feedback. And as a company, we’re constantly listening. So we listened to our guests. We listened to our team members,” Cornell told CNBC’s Squawk Box.
While the CEO stood by his company’s choice, he announced an action the store will take in an effort to address the safety concerns raised by the sponsor of the petition, the American Family Association, and others.
“But what has been lost in this story is … that the vast majority of our stores, actually over 1,400 of our stores, already have a family restroom, and we’re committed over the next few months to ensure that every one of our stores has that option,” he said.
Target has approximately 1,700 locations.
What Cornell did not say is that male and female restrooms would go back to being exclusively for that biological gender. Target’s solution therefore is that if a customer is uncomfortable with potentially having a person of a different sex in the restroom, choose the family restoom.
Given family restrooms only accommodate one customer at a time, that may create demand problems.
As reported by Western Journalism, the AFA was to meet with Target executives and has offered that if the retailer wants to address its safety concerns, a solution would be to provide unisex bathrooms (presumably the family restroom would fit that bill), in addition to the standard male and female ones. Transgender people (who make up less than half of one percent of the population) would then have that option, if they are not comfortable using the restroom that corresponds to their biological gender.
Cornell summed up his company’s view concerning the controversy. “So, we took a stance, and we’re going to continue to embrace our belief in diversity and inclusion to our company, but we’re also going to make sure our focus on safety is unwavering,” he said.
However, that “unwavering” commitment to safety will not include changing its bathroom policy.