Target is ranked as one of the largest retailers in the world. As of 2019, the retailer ranks as the 39th largest company as per the revenue collected (Fortune, 2019). As a company doing business in a 21st-century environment, they have had to adopt corporate social responsibility as a way of doing business. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to the concept of integrating environmental and social concerns into the company's business model (Crane, Matten, & Spence, 2019). Corporate social responsibility is an old concept that dates back to the 19th century, but it wasn't until the 1970s that the idea gained mass adoption. Business people realized that there are financial benefits to the positive reputation that is generated by CSR. Also, developing the welfare of the people in the area in which the business operates has long term benefits because it creates a sustainable business environment. As a result, corporate leaders view corporate social responsibility as a long-term investment opportunity. Therefore, this research will explore the CSR missions and goals developed by Target and develop an idea for a new CSR endeavor for the organization.
Corporate Social Responsibility Statement, Vision and Mission Statement
According to Target (2020), the company's corporate statement is that they put the needs of people, their communities, and the planet at the heart of their work today to build a better tomorrow. The CSR statement suggests that the company views CSR work as a long-term project. It means that if the organization prioritizes the needs of its people, its communities, and the planet at present, they will enjoy the fruits of such work sometime in the future. The nature of the statement also suggests that the company is ready to lose in the short-term. The short-term benefits of such an undertaking are non-existent or minimal. But that is a price the company is willing to pay.
Although it is not directly stated, these needs don't have to be directly related to retail, which is the company's core business. That can be seen in the inclusion of society in its CSR statement. That means the benefactors of these projects aren't necessarily Target customers. It means the CSR projects are there to benefit the community as a whole. It is hard to control CSR projects as that would undermine the purpose of the whole project. CSR is based on the logic that when companies practice responsible business, everybody involved, including the company, gets to benefits. As a result, the target doesn't have a problem if non-customers benefit from its CSR projects if the company will end up profiting in the long run.
As part of their mission, they have set out to empower teams, serve guests, foster communities, and design tomorrow (Target, 2020). The first mission is directly related to the company's business as it wants to ensure the team members and their workers thrive. The second mission seeks to deliver value with values. It isn't necessarily targeting Target customers. It includes all other groups who may need the company's help. The third mission specifically targets the whole group by accelerating the economic development of society. The last mission seeks to embrace future-forward design that improves environmental conservation efforts. All these missions have led to the development of a host of CSR projects that would help the company achieve its goal of using their size, scale, and reach to impact the communities in which they serve.
Current and Future CSR Activities
The current and future CSR activities, as outlined by the company, include supporting renewable energy by integrating solar technology into its business operations. There is the support of community recreational activities such as sports. Factoring in the needs of people living with disabilities by designing clothes for them (Target, 2020). They get to support women empowerment by ensuring equal pay among its employees. Target signed the equal pledge two years ago and has continued to make progress on the front. According to Target (2018), they don't view it as a goal or policy, they see it as a way of living out the company's values and treating all team members fairly. The equal pay pledge is also part of their team empowerment as outlined in their company mission. One of the most significant CSR projects they are working on is the project to reduce their carbon footprint. They seek to achieve that goal by reducing the carbon emissions from their supply chain, which is responsible for 96% of their greenhouse gasses. Finally, they hosted a holiday bash at the St. Jude's Children Research Hospital, where families go to have unforgettable fun and activities. They host the bash every year as a way of facilitating privacy, support, and independence in the wake of childhood cancer of disease diagnosis. They host those parties for the families receiving care at the St. Jude's hospital (Target, 2019a).
Based on the current and future CSR projects outlined on the company website, there are two main future plans described by the company. The first one involves the reduction of the company's carbon footprint through its supply chain (Target 2019b). The second one is the plan to achieve equal pay in the organization as part of empowering their teams and employees. These plans are bound to have specific internal and external effects on the company.
On the internal front, the issue of equal pay is likely to create a gender-neutral working environment that rates employees based on their performance rather than gender. Such a situation is expected to generate increased productivity among the workforce (Rubery, 2003). The women will be encouraged to work harder because of the equal opportunities available, and the men will be challenged to increase their productivity because their position will be guaranteed based on the work they do, rather than their gender. Equal pay will also enhance the company's image and increase its ability to attract top talent to the organization. Quality employees are likely to go where they feel they have a high chance of succeeding.
On the external front, the greenhouse initiatives will increase the company's competitiveness. Renewable energy programs such as the use of solar power to supplement the organization's energy needs will likely result in long-term cost savings. These savings place the company in a better financial position to compete with other retailers and improve their profit margins. Furthermore, Target gets to qualify for certain tax breaks from the government, which seeks to encourage the adoption of renewable energy sources and reduction of carbon emission. It is also suitable for the environment as the company aims to preserve their environment, enabling them to run a sustainable business.
The Idea for a New CSR Endeavor for Target
Based on Target's CSR statement and goals, it would be beneficial for them to undertake an anti-racial discrimination campaign that seeks to change the perspective of how people perceive other races. Supermarkets and grocery stores have been cited as one of the main places where racial discrimination takes place (Zenk, 2014). As a result, it would be necessary for Target to seek to implement change in that area of society by making people from minority groups feel free while doing shopping. Many organizations are aware that meeting diversity needs as one of their marketplace goals and objectives (Snider, Hill, & Martin, 2003). However, most of these companies only implement these goals in the context of their organization structure. An anti-discrimination campaign will show the company really care about society and change how their customers perceive them. People of color need not feel like a threat while doing shopping, and that starts by the way the employees treat their customers. Campaigns to change such perceptions are in line with the company's missions of empowering teams, serving guests, and fostering communities.
The digital revolution has granted the power to the consumer. That means companies have been forced to dance to their tune. Corporate social responsibility is one of those tunes as organizations have learned they cannot continue to destroy an environment in which they operate and continue to receive customers. They now have to engage with the communities that they serve and listen to their needs. As society progresses, companies may be forced to undertake more social responsibility to the extent of resembling governments. At that moment, more questions will be asked, but at the moment, CSR is the preferred business model.
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Rubery, J. (2003). Pay equity, minimum wage and equality at work. Geneva, Switzerland: ILO.
Snider, J., Hill, R. P., & Martin, D. (2003). Corporate social responsibility in the 21st century: A view from the world's most successful firms. Journal of Business ethics, 48(2), 175-187.
Staff Writer (2019, Sept 15). A brief history of corporate social responsibility. Thomas. https://www.thomasnet.com/insights/history-of-corporate-social-responsibility/
Target. (2018). How target ensures pay equity. Target corporate: Social Responsibility, careers, press. https://corporate.target.com/article/2018/07/pay-equity
Target. (2019a). A home away from home: Marking 20 years of Target House at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Target corporate: Social Responsibility, careers, press. https://corporate.target.com/article/2019/12/20-years-target-house
Target. (2019b). Target just announced our most ambitious climate goals yet. Target corporate: Social Responsibility, careers, press. https://corporate.target.com/article/2019/03/climate-goals
Target. (2020). Corporate responsibility. Target corporate: Social Responsibility, careers, press. https://corporate.target.com/corporate-responsibility/
Zenk, S. N., Schulz, A. J., Israel, B. A., Mentz, G., Miranda, P. Y., Opperman, A., & Odoms-Young, A. M. (2014). Food shopping behaviours and exposure to discrimination. Public health nutrition, 17(5), 1167-1176. https://doi.org/10.1017/S136898001300075
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