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UPDATE: Tractor Supply Faces Backlash for Plans to Weed Out Support for DEI, Environmental and LGBTQ+ Causes

Chad Robertson-stock.Adobe.com

[Update as of July 5, 2024] The Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association, John Boyd Jr., said he is “appalled” by Tractor Supply’s decision to pull back on its diversity and sustainability efforts and called for the retailer’s CEO Hal Lawton to step down, in an interview with AP.

“I see this as rolling back the clock with race relations because the country is so divided on race, especially in rural America,” said Boyd Jr. in the interview.

Original story from July 1, 2024 begins-

Citing feedback from its predominantly rural customer base, Tractor Supply will eliminate all DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) roles, withdraw its carbon emission goals and stop support for “nonbusiness” LGBTQ+ and voter registration causes. The 2,250-store retailer will refocus its charitable efforts on veterans, emergency response, animal shelters and farmers’ markets.

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Going forward, we will ensure our activities and giving tie directly to our business,” according to a company statement. “We work hard to live up to our mission and values every day and represent the values of the communities and customers we serve. We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them. We have taken this feedback to heart.”

The move is part of a pendulum swing by some retailers away from progressive policies and causes. Target announced in May 2024 that it would only carry Pride-themed merchandise in select stores during this year’s June Pride month, following a backlash after the retailer pulled this merchandise from stores in 2023. Best Buy’s commitment to LGBTQ+ causes was questioned by the New York State Comptroller in May 2024 after an SEC filing revealed the retailer’s willingness to screen employee group donations to LGBTQ+ groups due to pressure from a conservative think tank.

Going forward, Tractor Supply will:

  • No longer submit data to the Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBTQ+ advocacy group;
  • Refocus Team Member Engagement Groups on mentoring, networking and supporting the business;
  • Further its focus on rural America priorities including agriculture education, animal welfare, being a good neighbor and stop sponsoring non-business activities like Pride festivals and voting campaigns;
  • Eliminate DEI roles and retire its current DEI goals while “still ensuring a respectful environment”; and
  • Withdraw carbon emission goals and focus on land and water conservation goals.

In February 2024 the retailer announced plans to open more than 90 stores this year despite a challenging 2023.

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