Two Major Chains Facing Pushback From Investors For 'Going Woke'

Major retailers Target and Dick's Sporting Goods face criticism for "woke" policies. Both companies are under pressure from activist investors. This comes amid culture wars in the U.S.

The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) plans to present proposals at each company's shareholder meeting. They aim to stop boards from making hyper-political decisions. The proposals argue controversial positions are taken at shareholders' expense.

At Target, investors want a report on partnerships and support for "divisive social and political organizations." This follows backlash over Pride Month displays last year. Target has had Pride Month displays for years. But products like female-style swimsuits for "tucking" male genitalia sparked outrage in 2023. An insider said stores were told to relocate these displays to avoid a "Bud Light situation."

NCPPR targeted Target's partnership with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). They claim the company aggressively pushed radical gender theory. Activists argue this backlash hurt sales and stock prices, resulting in a $12 billion lawsuit. Target's board urged shareholders to vote against the proposal, calling it unnecessary.

At Dick's Sporting Goods, NCPPR wants a bylaw amendment waiving the business judgment rule. They believe this would increase board accountability for political or ideological actions. The think tank highlighted a past incident where Dick's stopped selling assault-style weapons. Then-CEO Ed Stack said he didn’t care about financial implications. The proposal aims to focus Dick's on shareholder value.

Dick's board unanimously recommended a vote against the proposal, saying it likely violates Delaware law. The Wall Street Journal reported rising "anti-woke" shareholder activism. Despite this, none of the proposals have passed so far.