Posted on June 28, 2024

Tractor Supply Retreats From DEI Amid Conservative Backlash

Sarah Nassauer and Sabela Ojea, Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2024

Tractor Supply, a rural retailer that is known for selling animal feed and workwear, said it is done with corporate diversity and many environmental efforts, a striking reversal as more companies face criticism of these initiatives from conservative activists.

The company on Thursday said it is eliminating all jobs focused on diversity, equity and inclusion and withdrawing its carbon-emissions goals. The Brentwood, Tenn.-based retailer also said it is retiring its DEI goals and would stop sponsoring pride festivals for the LGBTQ community and voting campaigns ahead of the presidential election.

The moves, which come after weeks of criticism on social media from a prominent conservative political commentator, represent one of the most drastic corporate retreats from progressive initiatives at a time when many companies are reconsidering their advocacy of a host of causes.

“We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them,” the company said in a statement that was also posted on X. “We have taken this feedback to heart.”

Tractor Supply’s core customer base is more rural and male than general big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target, with many customers in regions that tend to vote for more conservative political candidates.

The company faced a surge in conservative activist complaints about its DEI efforts earlier this month, first on X, then on other social-media platforms. Some commenters threatened to boycott the brand, mirroring tactics used to nudge other companies to respond. The campaign was led by conservative political commentator and filmmaker Robby Starbuck, who called on his followers to “start buying what you can from other places.”

Activists’ efforts against Tractor Supply are part of a wider conservative movement directed at companies in recent years that in some cases have hurt sales by putting firms in the crosshairs of heated cultural and political debates.