The Human Rights Campaign drops Target and Best Buy

HRC Drops Target | News |

The Human Rights Campaign will drop both Target Corp. and Best Buy, two companies embattled over donations that aided an antigay politician’s campaign, from its annual Buying for Equality Guide.

In a Friday statement, HRC vice president of communications Fred Sainz said the national organization “will not encourage people to shop at either store and believes that consumers should make their own decisions after careful consideration of all of the information available to them.

"Because we understand the impact of leaving Target and Best Buy on the various products associated with the buyer’s guide, both companies will soon be removed from it,” Sainz added.

The decision comes after mounting criticism of the HRC Corporate Equality Index (from which the buyer’s guide is derived) and whether it accurately reflects a company’s record on LGBT equality.

Now, of course, this begs the question: do consumers care enough? Does anyone outside the relatively small niche of LGBTQ rights advocates and allies look at these indexes? Also worth pondering, to what extent can people vote with their wallets when sometimes the cheapest option available is the only option available? It’s relatively easy for many of us to take a stand and not consume certain products or products sold at certain outlets but what happens when someone’s survival depends on buying whatever is available at these places? (I am thinking of someone who is about to have a job interview and can only afford to buy that one low cost shirt at Target, for instance, but certainly that’s not the only possible scenario; food at Walmart, clothes produced in sweatshops, etc, all are likely to be “luxuries” many cannot do without). It’s a sad state of affairs when it becomes a matter of “the privilege to support a cause”.  Because it really is (same with organic food, locally produced products, etc.). Using myself as an example, if I only wanted to consume organic stuff produced in The Netherlands, I would probably be very badly malnourished as it is prohibitively expensive to do so.

I think that financial boycotts should only be one aspect in creating awareness because they can easily become double edge swords: many people will have to purchase from these companies (through either lack of better options in their neighborhoods and/ or because it’s the only place they can afford). To make matters worse, many who are aware of these issues and still need to buy from companies like Target might become alienated through guilt. Is that an effective reach out method? I don’t have answers but it’s something that bothers me in the narratives of consumer boycotts. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of luxury to stand by one’s beliefs.

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