Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigns following tumultuous, controversial six-year tenure

Categories: Target
Gregg Steinhafel
UPDATE: While Gregg Steinhafel resigned in 2014, the repercussions of his actions were still being felt in March 2015 when it was announced that thousands of Target employees would be laid off while Steinhafel received a $61 million golden parachute upon his departure.

This morning, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel resigned all his positions at the company, citing last winter's massive data breach, a debacle that was quickly followed by layoffs and an announcement of dramatically decreased profits during the most recent holiday season.

Steinhafel, 59, attempted to place blame for the breach on his shoulders, and he cited the fallout as a reason for this morning's move in the resignation letter he penned to the company's board of directors.

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"The last several months have tested Target in unprecedented ways," Steinhafel writes. "From the beginning, I have been committed to ensuring Target emerges from the data breach a better company, more focused than ever on delivering for our guests. We have already begun taking a number of steps to further enhance data security, putting the right people, processes and systems in place. With several key milestones behind us, now is the time for new leadership at Target."

A statement from Target's board of directors says, "The board is deeply grateful to Gregg for his significant contributions and outstanding service throughout his notable 35-year career with the company." It adds that John Mulligan, Target's chief financial officer, has been appointed as interim president and chief executive officer, while Roxanne Austin, a current member of Target's board of directors, is interim non-executive chair of the board.

Steinhafel presided over a tumultuous six years at Target. At one time he was the highest paid CEO in Minnesota, and the gap between his salary and the company's performance led the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal to proclaim him one of the state's most overpaid CEOs back in 2011. The year before, Steinhafel, a heavy Republican donor, mired himself and his company in controversy for giving $150,000 to a conservative group that opposed marriage equality. In 2012, the company ran gay-friendly ads but still refused to take a public stance on the marriage amendment. Meanwhile, sales were disappointing.

Other embarrassments the company endured during Steinhafel's time as CEO included a recent photoshop fail involving a swimsuit model's crotch, the leaking of a ludicrously racist training document that produced a discrimination lawsuit, two gaffes involving products with regrettable names being sold online within a week, controversy over Target stores opening on Thanksgiving despite worker protests, the leaking of unflattering training videos revealing how the company indoctrinates its employees, and allegations of union busting.

Nonetheless, Steinhafel's departure is being framed as a mutual choice. To read the statement written by Target's board of directors, click to page two. Steinhafel's letter of resignation is on page three.

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