Target pledges to increase number of Black employees by 20% as companies are pressured to take action

 


As companies across the country face heightened scrutiny of their record on racial diversity, Target pledged Thursday to increase the representation of Black employees across its workforce by 20% over the next three years.

The big-box retailer’s workforce of nearly 350,000 employees skews White, particularly among its top executives. About 75% of its leadership team is White and 8% are Black, based on 2019 data. That rises to nearly a quarter, however, when including all people of color like Latinos and Asians. Its overall workforce — which includes hourly store employees who stock shelves and check out customers — is more mixed, with 50% made up of White workers, 25% Latino, and 15% Black, as the top three groups. 

While pledging to do better, Target referred to the strides it has made. It said it has doubled the representation of company non-White officers in the past five years to nearly 30%. Of that, though, only 5% are Black. 

It also touted diversity among store managers: More than half of its stores are run by women and a third are managed by people of color. 

Walmart has a larger U.S. workforce than Target. About 21% of its employees across the country are Black and 16% are Latino, according to a midyear report that came out this week. About 12% of managers and 7% of its officers are Black.

In the U.S., Black Americans make up more than 13% of the population, according to the Census Bureau.

“Inclusivity is a deeply rooted value at Target and we’ve had an ambitious diversity and inclusion strategy for many years for our guests and team,” chief human resources officer Melissa Kremer said in a news release. “We know that having a diverse workforce and inclusive environment not only creates a stronger team, but also provides the perspectives we need to create the products, services, experiences, and messages our guests expect.”

Target announced its new goal and shared its latest diversity and inclusion report, after calls for racial equity spread from the streets to the boardroom after the killing of George Floyd. Floyd died while in police custody in Target’s hometown of Minneapolis on Memorial Day. The video of him dying as he was pinned down by a police officer’s knee prompted widespread protests and a closer look at many inequities, from Black Americans’ under-representation in top business roles to their disproportionate death rates during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Target said it will emphasize recruiting and hiring Black employees and look for ways to encourage their advancement once they join the company. As part of that effort, it will add anti-racist training for its workforce and develop programs to boost diversity in areas like technology, merchandising, and marketing that are predominately White.

Target has taken progressive stances like asking customers not to carry guns into its stores and publicly welcoming transgender customers to use its stores’ bathrooms and fitting rooms, a move that prompted conservative groups to call for a boycott. The retailer has expanded its footprint in diverse cities like New York and San Francisco as it opens more small-format stores.

Yet the retailer’s record on diversity has been checkered. Two years ago, it agreed to pay $3.74 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that accused it of discriminating against Black and Latino job applicants with its approach to criminal background checks. A few years earlier, Target had paid nearly $3 million to settle similar claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. When it settled the lawsuit, Target said in a statement that it had revised its hiring practices and gathered criminal background information in the final stages of the process.

During the Black Lives Matter protests, some of Target’s stores were badly damaged. On social media, some people encouraged looters to seek out the company’s stores in tweets. The company has been criticized, too, for collaborating with police on public safety initiatives and appearing too cozy with them in Minneapolis. 

After Floyd’s killing, Target CEO Brian Cornell joined other top executives in expressing pain over the death of Floyd and urging change. He joined a subcommittee of the Business Roundtable, a prominent group of CEOs, to look for policy recommendations to address inequities in the U.S. law enforcement system and create more opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Other retailers signaled their support for racial equity, too, by announcing new initiatives, donating to civil rights causes, or setting new goals for recruiting and hiring. Among them, Walmart and its corporate foundation committed $100 million over five years to create a new center on racial equity. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer would also increase recruitment and support for people of color, but he did not quantify that goal.

Papa John’s is expanding its footprint in the Northeast as sales surge during the coronavirus pandemic with more consumers staying in and ordering out.

The company announced Thursday a deal in which franchisee HB Restaurant Group will open 49 new locations in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey by 2028. It’s one of Papa John’s biggest such deals in two decades.

HB Restaurant Group currently owns 43 restaurants in the mid-Atlantic area and has been a Papa John’s franchisee since April 2019.

The pizza chain has seen significant growth over the last few months. In August, it issued a preliminary estimate of North American same-store-sales growth of 24.2% from July 27 through Aug. 23. That followed a preliminary estimate of same-store-sales growth, a key industry metric, of 30.3% in July in the region. In the second quarter, North American same-store sales rose 28%.

“It starts with sales and getting the positive momentum going. And the next part of that life cycle is real development,” said Amanda Clark, Papa John’s chief development officer. “We are still outnumbered by our key competition — for me, that is something very exciting. There’s a huge runway for our existing franchisees in the system and new franchisees that want the opportunity for growth.”

With sales remaining strong and the business growing, Clark said the brand is in a place to help franchisees develop their businesses whether by providing financial tools or helping scout out locations to maximize profits.

Opportunities also are starting to arise due to the pandemic’s impact on the real estate market.

“We will probably have better location availability than we’ve had in the past because of COVID,” said Clark, a former executive vice president at Taco Bell overseeing the customer experience across retail. “That is something we can take advantage of and our franchisees will be able to benefit from.”

Fortressing, or having locations in close proximity to one another, has been a tactic of pizza competitor Domino’s in recent years to shorten delivery times and boost carryout business. Clark said Papa John’s focus is to continue to accelerate growth with more locations in the years to come so that customers can easily access delivery and carryout orders.

Nearly all of Papa John’s traditional restaurants are open and fully operational in North America, and just over 100 remain closed internationally, in accordance with government policies, the company said in its latest business update. The pizza chain operates in 47 countries. 

Papa John’s is also looking to expand internationally as sales outside the U.S. are also gaining momentum, Clark said. 

Under CEO Rob Lynch, who took over in August 2019, menu innovation has been a key focus and driver of sales. Digital platforms also are performing well, with 3 million new customers added in the second quarter and 70% of orders coming in digitally. This growth has led to several hiring announcements in recent months, bringing its total to 30,000 workers hired throughout the pandemic to meet demand.

The stock, which has a market value of $2.9 billion, is up some 40% year to date, and is one of the best performers in the restaurant space this year.

The pizza chain has seen significant growth over the last few months. In August, it issued a preliminary estimate of North American same-store-sales growth of 24.2% from July 27 through Aug. 23. That followed a preliminary estimate of same-store-sales growth, a key industry metric, of 30.3% in July in the region. In the second quarter, North American same-store sales rose 28%.

“It starts with sales and getting the positive momentum going. And the next part of that life cycle is real development,” said Amanda Clark, Papa John’s chief development officer. “We are still outnumbered by our key competition — for me, that is something very exciting. There’s a huge runway for our existing franchisees in the system and new franchisees that want the opportunity for growth.”

With sales remaining strong and the business growing, Clark said the brand is in a place to help franchisees develop their businesses whether by providing financial tools or helping scout out locations to maximize profits.

Opportunities also are starting to arise due to the pandemic’s impact on the real estate market.

“We will probably have better location availability than we’ve had in the past because of COVID,” said Clark, a former executive vice president at Taco Bell overseeing the customer experience across retail. “That is something we can take advantage of and our franchisees will be able to benefit from.”

Fortressing, or having locations in close proximity to one another, has been a tactic of pizza competitor Domino’s in recent years to shorten delivery times and boost carryout business. Clark said Papa John’s focus is to continue to accelerate growth with more locations in the years to come so that customers can easily access delivery and carryout orders.

Nearly all of Papa John’s traditional restaurants are open and fully operational in North America, and just over 100 remain closed internationally, in accordance with government policies, the company said in its latest business update. The pizza chain operates in 47 countries. 

Papa John’s is also looking to expand internationally as sales outside the U.S. are also gaining momentum, Clark said. 

Under CEO Rob Lynch, who took over in August 2019, menu innovation has been a key focus and driver of sales. Digital platforms also are performing well, with 3 million new customers added in the second quarter and 70% of orders coming in digitally. This growth has led to several hiring announcements in recent months, bringing its total to 30,000 workers hired throughout the pandemic to meet demand.

The stock, which has a market value of $2.9 billion, is up to some 40% year to date and is one of the best performers in the restaurant space this year.