Known for incredibly low prices, a quick changing selection, and a wide array of options, Target has a huge responsibility when it comes to human rights and environmental impact. Target has over 1,500 stores in around 47 states and employs over 350,000 people. So are they taking on this responsibility and fighting for the dignity of people or are they falling flat on their face?
Sadly, its not that simple. Target, without a doubt, has a rocky and fallen history. Using sweatshops and even some slave labor does leave a mark on their paths, including a large range of items produced in Bangladesh. Target actually does business with around 35 factories in Bangladesh, importing over $125 million a year from Bangladesh. They have signed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and have acknowledge that the safety in these factories is unacceptable.
So the real question is, has Target actually stepped up its game and started to source responsibly and ethically or have they just stopped the negative press?
When researching, it was easy to find violation after violation of workers safety and human rights (including taking workers passports in some factories) between 2001-2007. But after that it is really only Target’s Corporate site that gives information on their suppliers (specifically clothing). Although I would love to believe all the great programs they have started, according to their website, it is just not that easy. Every brand will tell you they are doing good work but are we making them follow through?
Unfortunately, I do not know for sure when it comes to Target. A few things that lead me to fear for their ethics are their every cheap prices, their quick change of stock, and their recent downsizing of products in order to build efficiency. When companies are all about efficiency and profit the role of the workers is diminished into just a part of the machine.
A hard part of looking at such a large retailer is that they supply so many brands, some through their own means and other through contracts. This also makes the full supply chain hard to trace, leaving room and gaps for violations and mistreatment of workers.
And oddly enough, some of the worst complaints and violations come from their stores in the U.S. and other countries that are not producing. Employees have complained about being bullied and treated unfairly. As well as, a recent change in chief executive lead to 2,000 corporate employees to be laid off. If this is how U.S. employees, who have a whole slew of workers rights under the government, are being treated how are workers who don’t have those rights laid out by their government?
I’d love to say Target has changed their ways have started to produce ethically, but I cannot do so. I do think that there has been some improvement but probably not enough to accredit the with good ethics.
2015 Better World Shopper Grade: D
Written By: Katelynn Behrens