Although Target issued a corporate statement supporting nursing mothers in 2006, apparently they are still falling short on efforts to educate employees about their policy. (You may remember the incident in 2006 reported by thelactivist and the incident in 2009 reported by Crunchy Domestic Goddess.)
Yesterday, we received a phone call and an email from Michelle Hickman about her treatment in a Houston Target Store on November 29th. Michelle is organizing a nurse-in at the store for December 28th at 10 a.m. For more information, join the Facebook group Michelle has started. Here is her story: “
“For guests in our stores, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms. In addition, guests who choose to breastfeed discreetly in more public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable.
Clearly, this policy is not translating through to employees. Best for Babes hopes that this can be resolved quickly before December 28th and that Target will implement improved employee training across all stores and for all new hires so as to end harassment and discrimination against nursing customers. We have contacted Target headquarters and have offered to help develop materials that can help them effectively communicate with their employees about nursing in public; our information is being passed on to the employee training department and we will keep you posted!
We hope that Target will take this issue as seriously as any other anti-discrimination policies, and make a greater effort to educate employees that breastfeeding benefits everyone, is truly beautiful, and that ALL mothers deserve to be cheered on and encouraged, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months, 2 years or not at all! They may even find that their own employee breastfeeding rates improve, which only helps the company’s bottom line, since every $1 invested in corporate lactation programs yields a $3 return. We hope they will turn to “The Business Case for Breastfeeding“, an excellent program and toolkit for employers developed by womenshealth.gov. Despite recent advances in employer and insurance policies, we still have a long way to go to change our culture, and we need Target to embrace this opportunity and apply their fantastic marketing skills to improving the public perception, and the perception of their employees, towards breastfeeding!
2. Inform mothers of their rights. Click here for your state breastfeeding laws. Also, thanks to PhDinParenting via Crunchy Domestic Goddess for this excellent information: This woman, and any woman, that experiences this type of harassment should report it to FirstRight. They maintain an inventory of such harassment cases and can also help mothers to figure out the best course of action (for example, nurse-ins can be good tools but are not always the best first step). Here is the link to FirstRight: http://www.firstright.org/reportdiscrimination
3. Ask your elected officials to support the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. The stronger our national policies, the better for everyone.
Let us know if you have any other suggestions!