Target (NYSE: TGT) Chief Merchandising Officer Jeff Jones addressed recent public criticism of the company's culture and, rather than defending the status quo, acknowledged that change was needed at the retailer.
Jones posted a note on LinkedIn responding to a recent post on Gawker in which a Target employee bashed the company's work environment and lack of vision.
Instead of deflecting blame, Jones said the criticism should be used to fuel improvements. While the letter on Gawker was difficult to read, he said, such honesty is "a gift" and much of what was said was true.
"The culture of Target is an enormous strength and might be our current Achilles heel," Jones wrote. "In the coming days and weeks we will embrace the critiques of Target — whether it's from outsiders or our own team — like an athletics team puts the negative press on the wall in the locker room.
"While we would have preferred to have a conversation like this with the team member directly, speaking openly and honestly, and challenging norms is exactly what we need to be doing today and every day going forward," Jones added.
The original letter was e-mailed to Gawker by a current midlevel employee at Target's Minneapolis headquarters. In it, the employee states that Target's unproductive staffing strategy rewards socializing in the office over producing results and Target has a tendency to follow what other retailers are doing instead of developing its own ideas.
"If Target doesn't make a serious change in their leadership and culture, it will end up being a Kmart, a Sears, or even worse a Circuit City," the employee writes. "The Twin Cities would be devastated — around 15,000 people work for Target HQ at one of their numerous sites in the Twin Cities."
The employee also said Target needed to find new corporate leadership, but did note that Jones should stay at the company.
The letter was sent two days after CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned just five months after cybercriminals stole payment card and personal information of up to 70 million customers in one of the largest retail data breaches in history. His exit followed the departure of CIO Beth Jacob on March 5. Bob DeRodes stepped into the role of CIO on May 5.
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