There has been a lot of recent debate about restrooms (of all places), and the inclusion of transgendered people into gender labeled restrooms. Public companies have been forced to take a stand one way or the other on the issue, and one retailer specifically garnered a lot of attention. Target announced in a statement called “Continuing to Stand for Inclusivity” that they would welcome transgendered employees and customers into any restroom.
Target also announced that they would be moving away from gender specific signs on their restrooms. While many people have praised Target for standing for equality, they have also drawn a lot of criticism from the other side of the debate. Those that oppose Target’s policy have been boycotting the stores, which led some to believe that Target would lose a sizeable portion of their customer base.
Target has reported that their bathroom policy has not resulted in losses for the company, although their stock has taken a hit in recent months, and now they are making another change to the policy. Target CFO Cathy Smith announced that each Target store will be adding a third restroom that has just one toilet, and those inside will be able to lock the door. Not only would this ensure privacy, but the unisex bathroom can be used by anyone if they don’t feel comfortable sharing bathrooms with others no matter what gender they happen to be.
The cost of the restroom expansion is estimated to be about $20 million, as there are nearly 2,000 Target stores in the United States, and 300 of them already have the single toilet restroom installed. They also estimate that it will take less than a year for the new restrooms to be installed. Target spokeswoman Katie Boylan said that “We put (the plan) in motion for some time prior to the shareholders meeting. At the end of the day, Target is all about inclusion. We want everyone to feel comfortable in our stores.”
Some are speculating that the decline in sales number (seven percent in recent months) have caused Target to change their approach so that each customer will be able to use a private restroom no matter what their views are. The American Family Association has spoken out about Target’s inclusion policy, and member Walker Wildmon said that “We’re confident that our boycott has played a significant role in Target’s financial results.”
Wildmon also said that adding the new private restroom “Doesn’t completely answer our concerns,” as they still want transgendered customers and employees to be confined to the gender specific ones they were born to. Target is still listening to both sides with Boylan saying that “We get it. Some like it, some don’t.”
It remains to be seen whether or not Target’s new policy will bring back at least some of the 1.4 million customers who have been boycotting the store after signing the petition against their restroom policy. The same petition said that “Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?”
It’s a tough spot to be in for Target as they want to promote equality while still trying to maintain a publicly traded company that has sales numbers to meet. It would be impossible to make everybody happy. As for Target’s biggest competitor, Walmart, they are not stating what their restroom policy is for transgendered customers and employees. It may or may not be related, but Walmart’s stock has risen by more than 10 percent in that timeframe.