I’m sure you all remember that magical moment in which Target hired a boy with Down syndrome as a model, then Rick Smith (aka “Noah’s Dad”) wrote a post that went viral about how Target was so great, they were doing the right thing and not even making a big deal about it.
Yeah? Do you remember that?
This is the thing: Target got sued by the National Federation of the Blind over web access for the blind.
(read about it here)
Within the disability/employment community, Target does not go all-out in trying to specifically recruit people with disabilities (like say, the National Security Administration, Microsoft, HP or IBM do), and they also do not have an in-store disability presence like say, Safeway or Starbucks do. Target is simply really good at covering its butt, great at dotting the ‘i”s, crossing the ‘t”‘s. Great at hiring a cute person or two with a visible disability for an ad campaign.
As an employment specialist and career counselor, I’ve kept my watchdog eye on Target for about a decade now – so it’s funny to me to see these new parents of a kid with Down syndrome (or another disability). They go absolutely ape over Target, thinking that Target is really *all that* because of the models that the Target PR team hires. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad they hired models with Down syndrome. Glad the PR team is finally peeping beyond their red dot-box over there in middle America. Glad Target took their chastisement from the NFB seriously enough to make some changes.
But they have still got a long, long way to go before they are any kind of “cutting edge.” They have light years to travel before they honestly knock my socks off like some other companies out there that do not wait to get sued before they realize the value of disability as a component of diversity.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.