The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How Target prevents forced labour in its supply chains

Case study: How Target prevents forced labour in its supply chains

As one of the largest retailers in the United States, employing almost 350,000 full-time, part- time and seasonal employees, Target works with strategic partners to reach the goal of elevating the lives of at least three million people in the factories and communities where Target’s goods are produced, deepening its commitment to identify and, if discovered, eliminate forced labour in its supply chains.

This case study is based on the 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report by Target published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Target believes it has a responsibility to protect the people who help create its products  Tweet This! and make every effort to deliver products that are made ethically and responsibly. Accordingly, Target is working alongside its suppliers, global sourcing experts and other key partners to help prevent forced labour in global supply chains. In order to prevent forced labour in its supply chains Target took action to:
  • adopt a Resolution on Forced Labour
  • develop policies to protect workers in supply chains
  • promote responsible recruitment
  • prevent human trafficking
  • monitor child labour risks

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report Target identified a range of material issues, such as diversity & inclusion, product safety, community development, responsible resource use, waste management. Among these, preventing forced labour in its supply chains stands out as a key material issue for Target.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Target engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Civil Society Organisations





·      Interactions through community partnerships and volunteerism

·      Participation in conferences and forums

·      Partnerships to advance mutual agendas

·      Select topical engagement

·      Strategic partnerships and consultation on material issues




·      A Bullseye View website

·      Face-to-face interactions in stores

·      Focus groups

·      Guest Services direct interactions

·      In-store marketing

·      Online polling

·      Receipt-to-online guest satisfaction surveys

·      Social media monitoring and engagement

·      Target Red



·      Annual meeting of shareholders

·      Financial community meeting

·      Quarterly earnings conference calls

·      Regular calls and in-person meetings

Policy Makers & Influencers


·      Legislative meetings, formal hearings and one-on-one meetings

·      Policy engagement and advocacy

·      Trade associations and policy-based organisations engagement

Team Members


·      Citizens at Target (nonpartisan platform for civic engagement)

·      Confidential annual team member survey

·      Daily team member email

·      Executive leadership emails and videos

·      Focus groups and listening sessions

·      Human resources communications

·      Inclusion acumen

·      Integrity Hotline

·      Volunteerism

Vendors All vendors:

·      Annual meetings

·      External partner website

·      Trainings and workshops

·      Vendor Code of Conduct

Owned-brand vendors:

·      Annual assessment

·      Annual owned-brand vendor meeting

·      Standards of Vendor Engagement (SOVE)

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Target worked closely with internal working groups to prioritise the environmental and social topics of concern and also carried out a survey among external stakeholders, to hear their feedback and expectations.

What actions were taken by Target to prevent forced labour in its supply chains?

In its 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report Target reports that it took the following actions for preventing forced labour in its supply chains:

  • Adopting a Resolution on Forced Labour
  • Target’s CEO Brian Cornell sits on the Board of Directors of the Consumer Goods Forum, and Target has adopted the organisation’s Resolution on Forced Labour. The resolution is the first industry commitment of its kind and contains the adoption of three key principles: that every worker should have freedom of movement, that no worker should pay for a job, and that no worker should be indebted or coerced to work.
  • Developing policies to protect workers in supply chains
  • Target has developed policies for its suppliers to protect foreign contract workers in its supply chain. Target seeks to set clear expectations for suppliers and lay out procedures, standards and verification mechanisms that will support the adoption of the Employer Pays Principle.
  • Promoting responsible recruitment
  • In 2017, Target joined the Responsible Labour Initiative’s Steering Committee, to continue to develop cross-industry approaches for advancing labour practices, especially regarding responsible recruitment and the protection of foreign migrant workers.
  • Preventing human trafficking
  • In 2017, Target launched a pilot programme to prevent human trafficking in Northern India. Workers from eight factories and 10 communities participated in a survey that informed both digital informational messaging and local non-profit partners’ educational programmes. By carrying out awareness programming prior to migration, Target hopes to help address the needs of community members and reduce the likelihood of trafficking. In addition, Target entered into a partnership with the International Justice Mission (IJM), to implement the group’s Safe Migration Programme and Grassroots Prevention Campaign in India. These programmes aim to prevent labour trafficking and support trafficking survivors by engaging with vulnerable communities and local authorities.
  • Monitoring child labour risks
  • All handwoven rugs produced for Target in India are certified by GoodWeave, as child labour free. In 2017, Target continued partnering with GoodWeave to further develop a technology platform that will enable end-to-end supply chain mapping and monitoring for child labour risks in Target’s supply chain in North India.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is:

Disclosure 409-1 Operations and suppliers at significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor


Disclosure 409-1 Operations and suppliers at significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Elimination of forced or compulsory labor


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Target, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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