Tractor Supply Ends All DEI Initiatives and Climate Goals After Customer Backlash

One of America’s largest farming retailers has officially ended its participation in DEI initiatives, due to an online boycott from conservative customers.

An End to DEI at Tractor Supply

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Tennessee-based farm and ranch retailer Tractor Supply is ending all of its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as well as its pre-established climate commitments, after conservative netizens spoke out against the retailer online.

Focusing on “Rural America”

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On Thursday the rural retailer confirmed the decision in a press release, citing its desire to focus on business, the communities it serves, and the “future of rural America.”

Committing to Business Only 

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This also means distancing itself from activities that are not related to its business. The company listed 5 examples of how it plans to refocus its business, which included eliminating DEI roles in the company and ending current DEI goals. 

No More Pride Sponsorship

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While it did not elaborate on the specific roles or goals that would be binned, it did give specific examples of “nonbusiness activities” it would no longer participate in – including sponsoring pride festivals. 

Withdrawing Carbon Emission Goals

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It also announced plans to withdraw carbon emission goals, and instead “further focus on rural American priorities,” which included promoting animal welfare, veteran rights, and agricultural education.

Shocking for Some

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The announcement has sent shockwaves through the retail industry, as it comes from a company that has long-touted its commitments to championing inclusive and progressive causes. 

Conservative Attacks Online

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Tractor Supply, which is based in Brentwood, Williamson County, and claims to be the largest rural lifestyle retail company in the US, has faced a swathe of attacks by conservative online commentators in the last month.

Criticisms on X

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Conservative commentator Robby Starbuck led the public tirade against Tractor Supply, sharing a series of posts on X on June 6 that criticized the rural retailer for its progressive stance on DEI and climate change.

“Time to Expose Tractor Supply”

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“It’s time to expose Tractor Supply,” Starbuck wrote. “It’s one of the most beloved brands in [America] by conservatives but what do they REALLY stand for under CEO @hallawton’s leadership?”

A List of Issues

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Starbuck then went on to share a list of initiatives and actions Tractor Supply had taken under the leadership of CEO Hal Lawton, including LBTQIA+ events and training, DEI hiring practices, and climate change activism, amongst others.

Provoking Outrage

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Starbuck’s tirade provoked outrage from his conservative followers, who went on to support a boycott against the company and to contact Tractor Supply leadership to complain.

Shares Fall, Boycott Trends

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It made a swift impact – during the boycott, Tractor Supply Company shares fell by 5%, and the hashtag #BoycottTractorSupply became widespread through online conservative spaces.

Taking the Feedback to Heart

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“We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them,” the press release reads, responding directly to the online backlash and boycott. “We have taken this feedback to heart.”

A Case of Whiplash

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Tractor Supply’s decision to reverse its DEI initiatives will seem like whiplash to many people who have paid attention to the company’s previous public statements in the last month.

Reaffirming DEI Support Earlier in the Month

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Just one day before Starbuck took to X to begin the boycott, TS CEO Lawton told the Associated Press that the company remained “very consistent” in their approach to DEI programs, as well as ESG initiatives, meaning environmental, social, and governance. 

“We Haven’t Walked Away”

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“(We’ve) just been very consistent in our emphasis there,” Lawton told AP reporters. “We haven’t walked away from anything.”

A Growing Trend

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Clearly, this is no longer true. Tractor Supply’s response to the conservative boycott is part of a growing trend of backlash against corporate DEI efforts, as well as lawmakers taking legal action against them in various states, labeling DEI as “discriminatory.”

The Republican/Democrat Divide

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It is also emblematic of the growing divide between Democrats and Republicans, based on social and cultural beliefs, something explained by David Glasgow of the Meltzer Center for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Companies like Tractor Supply appear to be leaning into that divide.

Political Pressure from Consumers

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Companies like Tractor Supply are caving to conservative pressure because that is their target demographic, compared to other companies that “aren’t answering to conservatives on X, they are answering to liberal consumers and recruits at liberal colleges,” Glasgow said.

A “Massive Victory” for Some

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Robby Starbuck directly responded to the company’s press release, calling it a “massive victory” and “the single biggest boycott win of our lifetime.”

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The post Tractor Supply Ends All DEI Initiatives and Climate Goals After Customer Backlash first appeared on EcoHugo.

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