Target corporation is an American discount retailing giant, second in size only to Wal-Mart, that has grown from humble beginnings to the preeminent retailer it is today. Target’s roots can be traced to Minneapolis Minnesota in 1902 when Dayton bought the Goodfellow Dry Goods store and set it in a building that he had built but was lacking tenants (Target corporate history, 2009), before he changed the store’s name, giving it a new corporate name, Dayton Dry Goods Company, to reflect his involvement in the running of the company. After running the store for seven years, he simplified the name to Dayton Company, which was later renamed as Dayton Hudson Corporation, before eventually changing name to its modern form, Target Corporation. After Goodfellow shifted to the new location, the store expanded until it completely filled the entire six floors of the building that Dayton had built. Although the store was run on strict Presbyterian principles and did not sell items like alcohol, it grew exponentially and by the 1920s it was a multi-million business. This led to expansion and the company bought a jewelry store, J.B. Hudson & Son, in 1929, which became part of the business.
The company survived the great depression through sensible leadership and a conservative approach to business although the jewelry arm of the business operated in the red over this period, depending on the store business to keep it afloat. The Second World War was a boon for the company because commodity shortage made it easy for the company to sell its merchandise and sales soared as Dayton ensured that the shelves were always stocked. Since its founding, Dayton had been run on conservative principles with management keen to conduct business scrupulously and pioneering the humane treatment of employees through the provision of retirement and comprehensive insurance policies. However, this approach changed in the 1950s and 60s as younger and more aggressive managers took over, secularizing the store and pushing for radical expansion as well as innovation in the stores operations. The company’s long-standing prohibition of alcohol in its stores was dropped as well as lifting the ban on trading on Sundays and advertising, This period also saw a change in management from a one-man type of leadership to a corporate leadership model where a number of people were involved in the company’s decision making process. In 1962, the first Target store was opened in Roseville, Minnesota and began trading as a discount chain, offering good quality products at a discounted price.
Between the 1960s and early 90s, a number of changes happened to Dayton that changed the way the company operated as well as its market reach. Dayton was listed as a public company in 1967 and subsequently merged with J.L. Hudson, a store chain based in Detroit, in 1969 forming the Dayton Hudson Corporation, one of the largest retailers in the US (Donnellan, 2014). Dayton continued acquiring jewelers in the early 1970s, revenues topped $ 1 billion dollars, and continued to grow, enabling the company to acquire Mervyn’s which ran department stores in California. Although Dayton had began as a department store, by 1979, Target, its fully owned discount retail stores had become the main revenue driver for the company, making Dayton to further expand the number of Target stores it operated. Target bought Ayr-Way of Indianapolis in 1980 and Marshall Field & Company of Chicago in 1990 and converted both to Target stores, acquisitions that enabled Dayton to increase the Target stores by around 74 units. Dayton Hudson again changed its name to Target Corporation in 2000 to reflect the fact that over 75% of the company’s revenue was now being generated by the discount store chain, making it necessary for the company to identify with a brand name that was working among consumers (Donnellan, 2014).
Target Corporation operates in the retailing industry and has carved a niche for itself as a discount retailer that offers exceptional value to clients who are quality conscious. Unlike other discount retailers that concentrate on offering reasonably priced low quality products, Target specializes on good quality products that it sells on tight margins, passing considerable value to the consumers who visit their stores. The store chain target market is the middle class bargain hunters, who want to buy good quality products at a discount and not the mass market that just wants cheap products. Target stocks name-brand names and fashion-forward products that are ordinarily found in exclusive upscale stores that cater to the rich, but sells the products at a discount making it paradoxically an upscale discount retailer (Target Corporation, 2006). Target is one of the retailers that has been proactive in addressing the sustainability of the products it sells by setting up a mechanism to evaluate the environmental impact of the products in its stores (Anderson, 2013). Although Targets’ revenues have increased year-on-year from US$ 65.7 billion in 2011 to US$ 72.5 billion in 2014, its net income over the corresponding period has shrunk from US$ 3.0 Billion to US$ 2.0 billion mainly due to increasing SGA costs (Target Corp, 2015). Target has a considerable online presence and the amount of revenue generated from online sales has been increasing (Zaroban, 2014), in contrast to its overseas expansion which led to the company making major loses (Friend, 2015).
Diversity in the workplace
Gender diversity refers to the ratio of men to women that is in the work place, with gender diverse workplaces having as near an equal split between the sexes as possible. Gender diversity does not merely refer to the numbers of each of the sexes, but also takes into account the duties and responsibilities given to each if the genders. To achieve diversity, the workplace must have men and women in positions of influence as well as involve both sexes in the decision-making process. Gender balanced teams are more productive than same-sex teams because such teams have a diverse set of skills which can be harnessed to improve the company’s bottom line (Brooks, 2014). Although Target Corporation has tried to implement gender diversity in the workplace, there is much that needs to be done with appointment to senior management positions for women being tokenistic. However, it is important to note that even though gender diversity is the fair and right thing to pursue, it may be a cause of unhappiness in the workplace because most individuals prefer to work with people of the same gender (Ellison & Mullin, 2014).
To achieve age diversity in the workplace, an organization must use a recruitment policy that allows it to attract and retain college graduates as well as more experienced employees. Age diverse organizations do not discriminate hiring on the basis of a potential employee’s age. Age diverse workplaces have the right mix of experience and youth that allows a synergistic relationship to develop that exploits the potential of youth guided by experience. Target Corporation actively encourages age diversity by having several tailor-made recruitment programs that enable it to target various segments of the job market. This includes sponsorship of interns, hiring of campus graduates as management trainees and separate hiring process for experienced employees (Larson, 2013). However, target has been accused of firing older employees who were earning substantial salaries on flimsy grounds to higher younger employees who could do the same work for half the pay or less (Herreras, 2011).
In a world where globalization has made it possible for people of different cultures to meet and work together, the multicultural workplace is the norm and companies must ensure that they encourage racial diversity by targeting minorities in the hiring process. An ethnically diverse workplace enables individuals from different backgrounds to work together and to feel included in the company’s activities. Target Corporation has initiatives that are targeted at minorities in a bid to identify and attract promising minorities to the company and has links with historically black colleges in addition to participating in minority job fairs. However, despite these efforts, Target Corporation was forced to compensate four Black Americans for discriminating against them on the basis of race (Target Corp to Pay, 2007).
Religiously diverse organizations do not have an official religious guiding framework but allow employees to exercise their faith and religious beliefs without interference or discrimination. Target corporations was originally founded on strict conservative Christian principles that determined the products that the company stocked as well as the days on which it was open for business. However, the company was secularized after the death of its founders, began operating all week round and the conservative operating ethos dropped in favor of a more open and inclusive operating standard. Although Target corporation modus operandi has change considerably over the years, the company was accused of violating potential employees privacy rights by giving them a pre-employment screening test that included questions on the applicant’s religious beliefs (Soroka V. Dayton, 1993).
Workplace diversity in sexual orientation requires that employers be blind to the sexual preferences of their employees especially if such preferences do not go against the rights of other people. Sexual orientation has long been a thorny issue in the work place with companies discriminating against individuals who were judged to have ‘unnatural’ sexual preferences and orientation. Target Corporation is one of the best companies in safeguarding the sexual orientation of its employees and partners. The company is an active supporter of the gay rights movement, regularly contributing to the cause of the community in addition to being a strong supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that criminalizes discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation (Chang, 2011).
Ideally employees should not be discriminated because of their disabilities, if they can be able to perform the duties that are expected of them without any problems. Disability diversity is possible only when employees are judged on their ability to perform assigned tasks and not on their physical appearance or capabilities. Target does not have strong disability diversity because the company has previously discriminated against employees with physical disabilities and showed insensitivity to their needs (Hodgetts & Hegar, 2008).
Commitment to diversity
The management of Target Corporation is committed to addressing the issue of diversity in the work place cognizant that a diverse workplace provides an opportunity as well as challenge depending on the way the issue is handled. Even in their ads, management has ensured that Target ads are diverse with a mix of races, ages and physical abilities as a show of the company’s commitment to promote a multicultural society. The company has also ensured that the face of the company, that is the employees working in its stores, are diverse and tries to ensure that it employees enough minorities through targeted recruitment. Target Corporation has also been involved in high profile advocacy work with groups that advance the rights of minorities like the LGBT organizations that it supports through funding. In addition, the management of the company has thrown the weight of the company behind legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that promises to tackle discrimination at the workplace. These efforts show that the leadership of the company is committed to diversity at the workplace although the company itself needs to address some imperfections within its system to make its workplace completely diverse.
Reputation of the Target on issues of diversity
Target is recognized within the industry as one of the leading proponents of diversity, especially of sexual orientation, with its support of gay rights and ENDA being a case in point. However, perception is sometimes clouded due to the competing interests that the company has to address in its funding drive. For example a campaign contribution to a pro-business politician drew a negative reaction from gay rights activists opposed to the conservative stand of the politician. Although Target has been accused of racial, age, religious disability discrimination, the complaints against a company of its size are few and the company always addresses the issues raised expeditiously.
Target Corporation has a proactive policy towards the issue of diversity in the workplace and has a diversity training initiative where managers are trained on how to handle workplace diversity flashpoints. The diversity training program has been criticized for entrenching discrimination and e group of minorities successfully sued the company about amending one of the training documents. The company’s diversity training program addresses through the use of scenarios of various diversity challenges, and provides a framework, which managers can use to diffuse potentially destabilizing diversity problems. The company also has a targeted recruitment policy that enables it to identify minorities that can be put into management positions in the company.
Area of improvement
Target Corporation has done a considerable amount of work to ensure that its workplace is diverse and multicultural in addition to being involved in advancing libertarian values in society. However there are a number of measures that the company can implement to improve its diversity strategy. First, the company should have an efficient internal oversight mechanism that is independent, where employees could confidentially report diversity problems. This can help to significantly reduce the likelihood of complaints ending up in court as disgruntled employees seek justice. Secondly, the company should have a research department that can analyze the challenges that are due to diversity and continuously give recommendations on how to improve the company’s culture. This is especially important because diversity issues are dynamic and hence the company needs to be proactive so as not to be overtaken by changes. Lastly, as a means of encouraging accountability and responsibility, the company should take action against those managers who flout diversity guidelines and harass employees over diversity issues.
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