Target CEO apologizes to employees for donating to anti-gay candidate Tom Emmer.

Target created a firestorm late last month by donating $150,000 to MN Forward, a “Republican-friendly political fund staffed by insiders from departing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration.” The most controversial part of this contribution was that MN Forward supports Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer (R), who is an outspoken opponent of rights for gay men and women — while Target often presents an LGBT-friendly image. Target came under intense pressure from its employees and customers, many of whom called for boycotts of the retail chain. Today, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel apologized to his employees. From his letter:

I have heard from many of you, and our team members, over the past week regarding Target’s contribution to MN Forward, and I appreciate your engagement and candor, both of which clearly demonstrate your loyalty and passion for our company.

In situations like this, it is often difficult to find the right words, but I would like to respond with the same honesty you have shown me.

The intent of our political contribution to MN Forward was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry.

We remain fully committed to fostering an environment that supports and respects the rights and beliefs of all individuals. The diversity of our team is an important aspect of our unique culture and our success as a company, and we did not mean to disappoint you, our team or our valued guests.

Going forward, we will soon begin a strategic review and analysis of our decision-making process for financial contributions in the public policy arena. And later this fall, Target will take a leadership role in bringing together a group of companies and partner organizations for a dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including GLBT issues.