Target CEO defends the decision to remove Pride displays and pledges to support the LGBTQ community. Read his letter to employees.

Brian Cornell Target CEO
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  • Target has found itself facing backlash over Pride merchandise that it sold — and then pulled.

  • The company has long been an outspoken LGBTQ supporter, but some employees have felt let down by the move.

  • CEO Brian Cornell defended the choice, saying it took "many difficult days of deliberation."

Target CEO Brian Cornell is defending his company's controversial decision to pull LGBTQ celebration merchandise from some Southern stores just days before Pride month of June.

A Target spokesperson told Insider the move was a response to "threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and wellbeing."

In an email to staff late Wednesday, Cornell addressed team members in stores, service centers, and planning departments, as well as making a general statement "to the LGBTQIA+ community."

Insider has obtained a verified copy of the email, which is quoted in full below. Note, the name "Briefly" refers to the company newsletter.

Team -

I want to end the day where Briefly started: on a note of care. This has been a very hard day for Target, and it follows many difficult days of deliberation and decision-making.

To our team in Stores: thank you for steadfastly representing our values. No one is better at working through uncomfortable situations in service to an inclusive guest experience.

What you've seen in recent days went well beyond discomfort, and it has been gut-wrenching to see what you've confronted in our aisles.

To our team in the service centers, thank you for your patience and professionalism through high volumes of angry, abusive and threatening calls. I recognize how difficult and even frightening those interactions can be, and thank you for the composure with which you've fielded those comments.

To the teams who have been working so hard on our plans for Pride - and now are showing incredible agility as we adjust - thank you. Your efforts will ensure we can still show up and celebrate Pride in meaningful ways.

To the LGBTQIA+ community, one of the hardest parts in all of this was trying to contemplate how the adjustments we're making to alleviate these threats to our team's physical and psychological safety would impact you and your wellbeing and psychological safety. We stand with you now and will continue to do so - not just during Pride Month, but each and every day.

Those were the two guiding principles when it came time for us to act: do all we can to keep our team safe, and do all we can to honor our commitment and connection to the LGBTQIA+ community.

From a host of difficult alternatives, we have sincerely sought the best path forward, finding ways to recognize Pride Month, while making adjustments to prioritize safety. As always, we're stronger together, and I want you to know that I'm committed to doing all I can, and all we can as a company, to support a culture across the country of care, empathy, equity and simple civility, in hopes that we'll not have to face these kinds of agonizing decisions in the future.

Thank you for the care you've shown each other, our frontline teams and the LGBTQIA+ community.


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