Aurora James’ organisation, which has been pushing retailers to commit to spending 15 percent of their buying budgets on Black-owned businesses, put pressure on Target this week after the big-box retailer announced plans to spend more than $2 billion on Black-owned businesses by 2025. Online, the Pledge highlighted the disparity between the $2 billion commitment and Target’s $92.4 billion annual revenue. Target has not joined James’ pledge.
“We should not be applauding this. We deserve so much more than this,” said the Pledge in a statement on Instagram, where the organisation also alleged Target had copied its branding style on social media in a “clear attempt to leverage the success of a Black-led movement, without putting in real work to support our community.”
A representative for Target, Joshua Thomas, said in a statement that the company did not take inspiration from the Pledge’s branding, and that Target’s latest commitments are part of a larger strategy around racial equity. Those initiatives have included increasing Black employees by 20 percent over the next three years and pledging $10 million to nonprofits working on empowering Black communities.
“We appreciate the important conversations that have been sparked in the last year,” said Thomas in a statement. “At Target, it’s been important for us to commit and act in a way that fully leverages our size and scale as a large company, well beyond just the products we sell.”
Target said the $2 billion over five years announced this week will go towards product orders from 500 brands as well as helping brands scale to meet the needs of large store networks like Target’s. The company has said it increased the number of “diverse suppliers” — or suppliers owned, controlled and operated by women, Black, Indigenous and people of colour, LGBTQ+ people, veterans or persons with disabilities — by 64 percent between 2016 and 2018. The company did not share the representation of diverse suppliers overall.
“Any commitment to invest in Black people is a step in the right direction, but Target should formalise their commitment by signing the 15 Percent Pledge and working toward allocating 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned brands,” said a representative for the Pledge in a statement. “At the Pledge, we are looking for equity from our partners, not only cash commitments that garner positive press attention.”