Target Sued for Misleading Shareholders, Pursuing ESG


Selective-focus image of a long row of red Target shopping cars in the parking lot of a Target department store in Dublin, California, May 21, 2018.
(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)


On Tuesday, the conservative legal group, America First Legal (AFL), declared its intention to sue retail giant Target, accusing the company of misleading its shareholders about the steps they were taking to navigate social and political risks.

In their lawsuit, AFL asserts, “Target’s management has misled investors, assuring them that the corporation oversees social and political issues and risks to protect shareholders.” The AFL suggests that, contrary to their public statements, Target was actually prioritizing “extremist hard-left ‘stakeholders’” over its customers and shareholders.

This accusation is particularly pointed at Target’s 2022 and 2023 proxy statements, where the company assured that its board of directors was vigilantly overseeing potential social and political risks stemming from its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) mandates. However, AFL criticizes, “management only cared whether its leftist ‘stakeholders’ were satisfied, disregarding the possibility that its customers and shareholders might feel differently.”

The lawsuit specifically highlights a particular decision made by Target in May 2023. AFL states, “In May 2023, Target embraced the radical transgender agenda with its ‘Pride’ marketing and sales campaign.” This campaign, aimed at promoting LGBT-themed clothing, included items like children’s clothing with rainbow symbols, LGBT-themed attire for babies, and “tuck-friendly” bathing suits for transgender women. AFL holds this campaign responsible for a precipitous “$12 billion collapse in share value — its largest loss in over 20 years.”

This decision by Target to launch the campaign was notably timed ahead of June, traditionally recognized by many as “gay pride month.” The timing and content of the campaign drew criticism and controversy. Target’s bold move mirrors similar controversies faced by other major brands.

For instance, Bud Light faced significant backlash after partnering with transgender social media influencer, Dylan Mulvaney. This backlash resulted in the company having to buy back unsold, expired beer across numerous stores and eventually losing its position as America’s #1 beer. Similarly, the LA Dodgers also faced criticism for hosting a pride month event featuring a left-leaning, anti-Christian drag queen group.


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