Gregg W. Steinhafel: President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Target Corporation.

BIOGRAPHY: Gregg Steinhafel was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His grandfather, a Prussian immigrant, founded Steinhafels Furniture in Milwaukee in 1934. Gregg Steinhafel worked in the store while he was in grade school. In 1977 he graduated from Carroll University. Two years later, in 1979, Steinhafel earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. That same year he started his career at Target as a merchandise trainee and eventually progressed through merchandising and operation positions. In May 2008 he was named CEO of Target and then chairman of the company in February 2009. Steinhafel also sits on a variety of boards including Business Roundtable,the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Museum Council for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, and TreeHouse, which is a nonprofit organization that supports at-risk teens.

CHALLENGE DISCUSSION: Steinhafel takes part in the practice of business. He reached a standard of excellence when he was named Chief Executive Officer of Target Corporation in May 2008. A CEO is the highest-ranking corporate executive and the person in charge of the total management of an organization. Steinhafel was named a chairman, the main decision maker, and the president of the entire Target Corporation. He is in charge of more than 360,000 employees and must provide the public shareholders with a transparent company. As Chief Executive Officer, he is responsible for determining the strategy and clearly articulating priorities to execute effective and ensure continued success for Target Corporation.

Large companies hold a great deal of power in the community and in the national economy. They control a large variety of assets and may have billions in cash at their disposal for socially conscious investments and programs. As the leader of Target Corporation, Gregg Steinhafel engages with team members, guests, shareholders, and communities in order to overcome challenges and to meet goals for environmental sustainability, education, volunteerism, and overall well-being. These processes are essential to the strength of communities in which Target Corporation operates worldwide. Steinhafel has also been on track to meet the goal of giving $1 billion for education by the end of 2015.

“As we transform our business to meet competitive challenges and adapt to how our guests want to shop, we remain focused on our legacy of giving and service and our commitment to strong, healthy and safe communities. And in today’s era of unprecedented transparency around pricing and merchandising strategies, we believe it’s also important to be transparent in reporting our goals and progress around corporate responsibility,” (Steinhafel).

With the leadership of Gregg Steinhafel Target Corporation leverages their business strengths in order to meet the challenges associated with their determined goals. These goals aim to benefit both the company and the communities they serve. Target has been increasingly responding to the needs of these communities.

“We continued to advance our commitment to responsible sourcing and environmental sustainability in 2012 by ending the harmful practice of sandblasting denim; working with our pork-product vendors to ban sow-gestation crates by 2022; committing to increase our organic food selection by 25 percent by the end of 2017; and making progress toward our goals of offering a 100-percent sustainable seafood selection in our stores and reducing waste, water and greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015. Additionally, we are working to cut excess miles from our U.S. supply chain, limit packaging waste, and help our guests increase their use of reusable shopping bags, which has reduced plastic-bag consumption in our stores over the past four years,” (Steinhafel).

Target was presented with a series of obstacles after the economic crisis began in 2008. Shoppers became more frugal and competitors such as Wal-Mart started to attack the company's core merchandising business. Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its income to non-profit organizations that support the communities where the corporation does business. With dipping sales figures, Steinhafel continued his processors promise of donating 5% of the company’s earnings to charity. This is significant in more ways than one. Firstly, this is a large contribution from a mainstream multinational corporation in a down economy. Secondly, Target Corporation is keeping a promise it made to the economy as a whole. It has been over 60 years since this promise was made and the company is still pursuing an effort to support the communities they are involved with. Steinhafel exhibits both leadership skills and ethical traits by acting as CEO in a strenuous marketplace and yet continuing to help the community.

Despite his efforts to build a strong relationship with the community, however, Steinhafel has faced some challenges. Target had made a donation to MN Forward, a group who was in support of Republican Tom Emmer's bid for governor. Emmer is a known anti-gay conservative. The contributions to MN Forward prompted an attack from Democrats and gay rights groups who called for boycotts of the company’s stores.
This was a personal challenge for Steinhafel because his leadership and moral code were put into question. Rather than defending his decisions, however, Steinhafel took responsibility for his actions.

He admitted his mistake and reaffirmed the company’s long-standing support for gay rights. Steinhafel also wrote a letter to Target employees stating that the purpose of his $150,000 donation was to support economic growth and job creation. He made a poor decision both ethically and financially though this donation. He supported a party that is against gay marriage and he lost the "gay friendly" title of his store. However, being a strong leader, he apologized and admitted his mistake. Some leaders try to fix their mistakes by lying or being deceptive about the underlying causes of the decision. Steinhafel admitted wrong wrote, "We rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda...As you know, Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth...Let me be very clear, Target's support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company."
With all these challenges arising, Target has never lost sight of pleasing its customers nor wavered in its commitment to give 5% of earnings to philanthropic causes. Target was also able to create 30,000 jobs in Minnesota in the last 30 years. For CEOs there will always be many challenges to overcome. After business scandals like Enron, Arthur Andersen, and WorldCom, the corporate world today is in need of ethical business leaders. Through making considerate executive decisions, Gregg Steinhafel is one of the most ethical CEOs in Corporate America today. He has sustained value for the customers, employees, shareholders, and even the community. Steinhafel is responsible for Target's strong brand recognition, devotion to innovation, strong supply chain initiatives, and disciplined approach to managing its business and investing in future growth. Furthermore, he contributes executive decision-making skills and valuable strategic planning expertise, as well as significant and relevant knowledge of public company requirements and issues.

Target Corporation Awards & Recognition
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VIRTUE DISCUSSION: Integrity: Steinhafel practiced having good integrity by upholding his moral values. During the recession with dipping sales figures, he could have easily cut wages, downsized, or even falsified financial data that would have affected shareholders and employees. Instead, he held true to his community and organization and kept merchandise prices low unlike his competitors. By contributing 5% of income to donations, he continued upholding the company tradition that could have easily been stopped due to financial issues.

CHOICE-WORTHY GOOD: Steinhafel could have easily been like other unethical CEOs and could have been selfish. Instead he cared about his organization and the community and helped build a strong relationship between the two. Steinhafel demonstrates the choice-worthy good of being a partner of the community. As a CEO of any organzation, there is a large amount of monetary value that comes with it. With this said, Steinhafel could have left the organziation and still could have been financially stable the rest of his life. He also could have taken part in less ethical practices in order to gain more income. Instead, Steinhafel makes decisions based on both the needs of his company and the common good. It is through these decisions that he fights against the cultural ill of unethical business practices made by multinational corporations.


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