Not Just Target: Walmart’s ESG Efforts Focus on Catering to LGBT Agenda

ESG guidelines reward retailers for not just selling LGBT merchandise but buying from such suppliers

Not Just Target: Walmart’s ESG Efforts Focus on Catering to LGBT Agenda
Customers shop at a Walmart Supercenter in Rogers, Ark., on June 6, 2013. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
Naveen Athrappully

Similar to Target, Walmart’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) report reveals that the company makes special provisions for LGBT groups, including specifically sourcing supplies from people professing such identities.

Target has been the focus of boycott calls due to offering Pride products this year aimed at children. Target’s 2022 ESG report (pdf) shows that at least 51 percent of its suppliers are “owned, controlled and operated by women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, veterans or people with disabilities.” In addition, 59 percent of their Pride Month assortment was created by LGBT creators and brands.
Walmart has also been shown to conduct an “inclusive sourcing” program for LGBT groups. Walmart’s supplier inclusion initiative offers companies, owned and operated by members of LGBT and other identities like ethnic and racial minorities, “the opportunity to work with us while growing their business,” according to Walmart’s July 2022 ESG report. “For our U.S. businesses, we sourced more than $13.3 billion in goods and services from approximately 2,600 diverse suppliers.”

ESG principles make companies look beyond making profits and focus on taking actions related to issues like climate change, racism, and sexual identity, among others. It is adopted by companies mainly to appease large investors like BlackRock that use these metrics to evaluate whether to invest or not. ESG investing has been receiving blowback in recent times from conservative-led states.

Walmart received a full 100 points on The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI). To get a perfect CEI score, an organization has to donate to LGBT causes as well as refuse to donate to non-religious organizations that oppose such causes. The organization must also support gender transitioning.

It scored 30/30 for Workforce Protections, including “sexual orientation for all operations” and “gender identity or expression for all operations.” Walmart scored 30/30 for Inclusive Benefits, which includes “equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care.”

The company scored 40/40 for supporting an “inclusive culture.” The score was the result of Walmart meeting two CEI criteria on LGBT—that three LGBT internal training and education best practices as well as three efforts of outreach to the broader LGBT community be implemented.

In 2021, Walmart donated $500,000 to PFLAG, the largest organization in the United States that advocates for LGBT and their families.

LGBT Offerings By Target and Walmart

The controversy surrounding Target originated with the Pride merchandise they offered this year. The company had rolled out more than 2,000 products, including books, clothing, calendars, and home furnishings at the beginning of the month.

Some of the items were targeted at children. For example, books for kids aged 2–8 had titles like “Pride 1,2,3,” “Bye Bye, Binary,” and “I’m Not a Girl.” Target also suggested “The Pronoun Book” to kids aged 0–3. In home décor, Target offered mugs labeled “Gender Fluid.” It also offered transgender-designed swimsuits for adults with a “tuck-friendly” feature.

Similarly, Walmart is also offering Pride products. A controversial product being offered by the company is a “breathable” chest binder aimed at “trans, lesbian, and tomboys.” The binder, offered online, features pictures of a young girl modeling the product.

Walmart Pride products have started to attract criticism online. “We've backed #Target into a corner for selling #Pride merch in the children's section. Now we go for #Walmart. These woke companies need to know that enough is enough. Not ONE MORE [expletive] DAY. They're NOT GETTING our kids,” journalist Breck Worsham said in a May 24 tweet.
The Epoch Times has reached out to Walmart for comment.

The Boycott Trend

Target and Walmart are the latest in a series of brands that have faced boycott calls in recent times for pushing the transgender agenda.

The largest corporate boycott trend began after transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a promotional video for beer brand Bud Light on April 1. The move triggered a widespread backlash online from multiple conservative influencers. Since April 1, the market value of Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Bud Light, has fallen by $15.7 billion.

Earlier this month, women’s clothing brand Anthropologie uploaded a video on Instagram featuring a male model dressed up in female clothing. The incident triggered many women to post online that they intend to not shop from the brand.

Though calls for boycotting Target have strengthened, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) believes that this would be a difficult thing to do.

“What really came to bite Bud Light is that [it] wasn’t a hard boycott,” Cruz said recently during an episode of his podcast. “It’s difficult for nobody on planet Earth if you were going to order a Bud Light to say, ‘I’ll have a Coors Light.’ That’s a very simple substitution.”

“Target? We’ll see how prolonged and easy a substitution it is. There’s Walmart. You know, there are alternatives,” he said. “I will say Targets are located in a lot of areas and very convenient for a lot of shoppers. So we’ll see if this becomes a persistent consequence or not,” he added while pointing out that conservatives have usually not been very good at boycotts.