At the end of May, some Christians were talking about how they are boycotting Target. This isn't the first time Christians have boycotted Target. Back in 2016 and again in 2018, there were boycotts because of Target's bathroom and fitting room policies changing – they announced that they were allowing transgenders to use the bathroom or fitting room of their choice. Are these boycotts beneficial? Is there something else that Christians could be doing to make a greater impact?
[Before I go any further, I want to emphasize that I do not agree or support what Target is currently doing, and I don't think any Christian should support it. The point of this blog though is to take our actions a step further than not shopping at Target.]
In less than 10 years, Christians have boycotted Target 3 different times. The past boycotts obviously haven't worked in terms of changing the hearts or minds of Target's executives or even Target's shoppers. Christians are ultimately humans, and we tend to get passionate about something for a while... until it starts costing us money, time, convenience, or we simply miss something from that company, and then we drift back to them. Target isn't the only example. PepsiCo (which includes Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), Disney, Starbucks, and Home Depot are other examples of Christian boycotts that didn't last over the last 20 years. While taking a stand against what Target is currently doing isn't bad, we must go deeper than just not shopping there indefinitely! Activist investing is a better long-term way to make an impact over boycotting.
Since the beginning of our Cornerstone Portfolios in 2020, we've talked many times about the importance of understanding what you're profiting from. Do you have an S&P 500 Index Fund? You might be surprised what you're profiting from!
Nearly all the top 25 S&P 500 companies openly embrace, lobby, and promote the LGBTQ+ agenda with shareholders' money. Even if you decide to stop shopping at Target, you would still be cashing in on their profits if you have an S&P 500 index fund. The graphic below breaks down the composition of this index fund which is 69% invested in companies God would find objectionable. In this graphic you can see some of the top violating companies which include: Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.
If you're curious about what you actually own, click the image below and we can send you a free report.
Consuming vs. Investing
There's often confusion between consuming and investing, especially when it comes to companies involved in objectionable things, such as Target. People might stop shopping at certain stores; however, they'll still be invested in that company. Consuming is when you're buying something from a company who does things that are objectionable. Investing is when you're profiting from objectionable behavior and/or products. Let's break it down further to fully understand why it's so important to not investing in these companies.
Since Target is the company being boycotted right now for their objectionable actions, let's focus on the impact difference between consuming and investing with Target. Target's net profit margin is 3.75%. If you pay $100 for goods from Target, you receive $100 of goods to use in whatever way – good, bad, indifferent. However, owners of Target (the shareholders) received $3.75 to either return to the shareholders or to REINVEST in the mission of Target. EVERY shareholder (owner) of Target receives profits from everyone who shops there.
Put another way – even if you are 'boycotting' target, but own Target stock you are profiting from the actions of a company you specifically said you do not agree with!
Target is just one example of a large corporation with objectionable behavior and/or products. What about Apple, Microsoft, or Google? Most Christians probably have some sort of product from at least one of these companies. If you're boycotting Target, why aren't you boycotting any of these companies? Here's why-- there is a big difference between CONSUMING from these companies, and INVESTING in these companies:
All of these companies (Apple, Microsoft, and Google) promote and produce pornography in some way on their platforms, they actively support/promote lifestyle choices, and they actively support abortion. We do not want to be profiting (as an investor) from them because of those reasons; however, we can still take their products and do meaningful Kingdom things with their products. (If we didn't use any of their products we'd likely be at a disadvantage in today's society.) For example, a church can use Apple products (MacBooks, iPads, etc.) for good. Yes, the owners (shareholders) receive a fraction of the money we pay for those products to do whatever they please, BUT we receive the full use/value for those products to use as we choose.
It would be nearly impossible to live in the world today while refusing to shop at any company with objectionable behavior. While you might not want to shop at Target anymore, where are you going to shop instead? Walmart? Amazon? How are they any better than Target? We're not saying you shouldn't take a stand for what you believe in (I don't agree with Target's agenda!), but we are wanting to challenge you to go beyond just boycotting Target.
Side note on the impact of boycotts - a lot of social media posts were circulating about "costing Target" $9 Billion+. This confused us because Target doesn't sell that much in a month. What these posts were focusing on was the market captialization. While $9B+ might seem like a lot, looking at the previous Target boycotts, here is how they were financially effected:
You can see that while they did have a short-term impact, the boycotts didn't last long-term. Targe's bad earnings report cost them more than the TOTAL of the last 3 boycotts! We will have to wait and see what the financial impact is long-term of this current boycott.
(Again, we're not saying you shouldn't boycott Target, but instead saying – go further!)
Do you own an S&P 500 index fund?
I already brought up this question early, but I want to jump back to it to go deeper now that we have a better understanding of consuming versus investing. By now, you know that if you have an S&P 500 index fund, you're profiting from companies like Target.
A lot of the arguments seen about the reasoning behind boycotting Target goes back to protecting their children. Let's take a look at another example of something that has shown to have a negative impact on children – social media.
Meta, the new name for Facebook, is the 6th largest holding in the S&P 500. Therefore, you are literally profiting from the damage Facebook is doing to children (if you own an S&P 500 index fund)! Here are some of the things they are doing with the investment dollars in those index funds we profit from:
Why give them our investment dollars so they can turn around and spit in the face of Christian values? Because it's easy to invest in an index fund? Because you can make more money? Because it takes work to look at where your money is?
If you're interested in finding out what you're currently profiting from with your investment portfolio, let us know!
Making a greater impact
We've discussed the three BRI mandates in the past: avoid, embrace, and engage. The engage mandate allows us to make a bigger impact with corporations with objectionable practices. I wrote a blog in 2022 going into more detail about the engage mandate:
True Biblically Responsible Investors keep a token amount of shares in objectionable companies so they can attend shareholder meetings and work to engage with the board and upper management. Eventide and Inspire, two of our BRI partners, are continuously working to engage with objectionable corporations to push for some positive changes.
When you invest in SEM's Cornerstone Portfolios (or Eventide and Inspire directly) you are not only AVOIDING objectionable companies like Target (and Facebook, and Microsoft, and Google, and Apple), but you are also helping support a grassroots effort to extend the Christian message far beyond a simple short-term boycott.
Once again, we are not saying do not boycott companies you disagree with, but instead take the effort much deeper. By going deeper with your actions you can make a significant impact for God's Kingdom!