Crossposted on ZackFord Blogs
[Update: Michael Cole, HRC's Press Secretary, said today that Target and Best Buy would be removed from the Buyer's Guide:
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.
HRC 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.
No word on whether their CEI ratings will be docked any points as their current criteria allows. HRC also stops short of supporting a boycott of the stores, though given HRC's weak political tameness, one wonders whether they would ever support any kind of community activist tactic like a boycott.]
Okay, folks, let's review, and I'm going make this REALLY basic for ya'll:
» The Human Rights Campaign maintains a Corporate Equality Index (CEI), updated annually, that evaluates the employment practices of over 300 U.S. businesses in regards to LGBT issues. The criteria includes: non-discrimination policies, diversity trainings, trans-inclusive benefits, partner benefits, LGBT working groups and diversity councils, respectful advertising and marketing, and "responsible behavior toward the LGBT community" (for which 15 points are deducted if the company does something "to undermine LGBT equality").
» Data from the CEI is used to inform the HRC Employer Search and the Buying for Equality guide released every November, which has an unabashed goal of harnessing the LGBT community's buying power (estimated at $709 billion in 2009) toward supporting pro-equality companies during the holiday shopping season.
» The Target company has maintained a CEI rating of 100, which qualifies it for HRC's list of "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality."
» Empowered by its new corporate freedom thanks to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision earlier this year, Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, an organization in Minnesota supporting a "vehemently anti-gay candidate" (Joe Solmonese's words) for governor.
» HRC stepped in and demanded that Target similarly give $150,000 to pro-gay candidates to offset the damage they'd done.
» After a couple days of talks, Target said, "No."
» HRC committed to giving $150,000 of its own money to offset the costs.
First of all, how great is it that HRC is sitting on that kind of money that they can just dump it out without flinching? Man, the LGBT movement is just rolling in it!
Anyways, so let's say you have a friend that you really like. One day, your friend beats the shit out of you. You tell your friend to stop beating the shit out you. Your friend says, "No." What do you do?
I don't know about ya'll, but having been through middle school (as a nerd), I stop calling such a friend "a friend." In fact, I might concoct a plan to take that jackass down a few pegs.
So what is HRC doing to punish Target?
What is Target's rating on CEI? 100. As groups like MoveOn are calling for boycotts (you know, to harness that spending power of the LGBT community and its allies), HRC has taken no position on boycotts. In other words, if HRC was saying a month ago that we should shop at Target, it isn't saying it any less today.
This isn't speculation. This is according to Fred Sainz of HRC on Michelangelo Signorile's Radio Show yesterday.
Sainz said that it is hard to change the CEI criteria and that HRC is trying to "grapple" with the Citizens United changes.
Uh-huh. And what about those 15 points you can dock when a company isn't being a "good corporate citizen"? It's already built into the criteria. But guess who still has a 100 on the CEI?
Someone at HRC needs to take some Psych and Research Methods classes. You don't continue to cheer for a friend once the friend is a bully. There's this thing called conditioning and this other thing called codependency, and you don't want to… oh forget it. Also, if the test you apply produces results that aren't valid then… ugh, why am I wasting my time talking about education?
The problem here is that this is not about equality, it's all about money. Michelangelo made this point pretty compellingly:
Let me just add that the bigger problem here is HRC offering a "buyer's guide" at all. You're not an ad agency for corporations; you're a civil rights group. I know other groups do it, but it will always run into trouble. If you're going to do it you need to be able to quickly fix it, such as in a situation like this.
It's fine and good to list companies based on workplace practices and they should be letting LGBT people know what are the best companies to work for. But telling people to spend their money at these companies — and then HRC taking donations from these companies, as they have done with Target — puts your group in a bad position. It appears as if the reason for the buyer's guide is to get donations from the companies in return for sending LGBT consumers to them. And the reason HRC is now "grappling" and trying to figure out what to do is because they're worried about other companies in their index, some of which no doubt also give to antigay causes or candidates. If they remove Target they'll have to remove others. They shouldn't have been in this position — or should be able to react quickly and change the buyer's guide immediately when a problem arises.
HRC only wants to guide our community's buying power when they can benefit. HRC only wants to hold companies accountable if they have nothing to lose.
What does HRC stand for?
If the best they can do is some heated rhetoric, they stand for nothing. This sounds so familiar… who else is really good with words but never expends any capital on behalf of our community…?
Oh right, the President. And guess who's been #1 at Obama's table on behalf of LGBT issues… oh, that's right: HRC!
It seems like HRC really wants to look like it's doing things for our community without actually accomplishing anything. While the President's strategy is surely motivated by politics, HRC's is motivated by money. And while the President's inaction is bad for our community, HRC's continued siphoning of our community's money seems downright despicable.
What does HRC stand for? Today… not my rights.