Target announces plan to boost black employee count by 20%

Matthew Boyle

Target Corp. plans to increase the number of Black staffers by 20% over the next three years, responding to years of under-representation at the retailer whose Minneapolis headquarters lies a short drive from the spot where police killed George Floyd.

The cheap-chic retailer currently has 56,412 Black or African-American employees, who comprise just 15% of its workforce, according to a racial and gender breakdown released by the company Thursday that’s more detailed than its previous disclosures. Target is also putting new programs in place to retain those employees once they’re hired.

In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, a help wanted sign hangs on the door of a Target store in Uniontown, Pa.

The move comes as organizations of all stripes face a racial reckoning in the wake of the police killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans. The cases have sparked protests from coast to coast and prompted corporations to not only donate money to battle racial inequities but also to rethink their often lackluster approach toward hiring and retaining Black employees.

“More work is needed to increase representation and advancement opportunities and reduce turnover with Black team members,” Target said in a statement.

To do that, the retailer said it will provide “broader leadership pathways” for staffers to move up the ranks, develop programs to hire and retain employees in areas where Black people are not well represented – like technology, merchandising and marketing – and bulk up the network of mentors and sponsors for Black associates.

While the goal will boost the number of Black workers by more than 11,000, Target’s total workforce is also growing, and the company didn’t set a specific target for Black representation overall.

Leadership Diversity

Target’s plan also doesn’t specifically address the lack of diversity in its officer ranks, where Black people make up just 5% of the group, according to the latest workforce data. In prior years, Target had massaged that fact by disclosing the share of leaders who were racial or ethnic minorities, a much broader group that also includes Latinx and Asians.

The 15% share of staffers who are Black is below rivals like Walmart Inc., whose U.S. workforce is 21% Black or African-American.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Cornell has pledged to donate time, money and resources to help local small businesses rebound from the unrest. On June 5, Target pledged $10 million to social-justice organizations and community rebuilding.

“The next step in this journey is being even more transparent with our progress by sharing a deeper look into the racial and gender diversity of our team, listening to our team’s feedback along the way and using this information to drive a number of new commitments for our team,” Melissa Kremer, Target’s Chief Human Resources Officer, said in the statement.

Those commitments will be guided by a new committee of senior leaders at Target, dedicated to engaging the company to battle systemic racism.