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The Margin: Here’s the truth behind that Home Depot ‘privilege’ training guide going viral

Images of a Home Depot training guide teaching employees about privilege have gone viral on Twitter this week, with many people threatening to boycott the big box store. 

Tweets show pictures of a packet called “Leading Practices: Unpacking Privilege,” which were reportedly taken by a Home Depot employee. The handout highlights social advantages such as white privilege, class privilege, Christian privilege and cisgender privilege that can benefit some people at the detriment of others. For example, it notes that, “If you’re confident that the police exist to protect you, you have white privilege.” Or, “If you can expect time off from work to celebrate your religious holidays, you have Christian privilege.” It also lists being able-bodied, heterosexual and male as additional types of privilege. 

Some followers took offense to the material, or were angered at the idea that Home Depot
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was “shaming” its employees for their privilege. And many threatened to boycott the store, or to shop at competitors like Lowe’s
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leading “Home Depot” to trend on Twitter
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on Wednesday with more than 17,000 tweets and counting. 

But a company spokesperson told MarketWatch over email that while the “Unpacking Privilege” guide is authentic, the material actually came from Home Depot’s Canadian division, and “seems to have very limited views.” (Indeed, some eagle-eyed readers had noted that the spelling of words like “colour” on the flyer suggested this was not from a Home Depot in the U.S.) 

What’s more, it was “not part of any required companywide training.”

The rep added that, “While we fully support diversity across our company, this material was not created or approved by our corporate diversity, equity and inclusion department. This was a resource in our Canadian division and not part of any required programming.” 

Home Depot didn’t offer additional comments about the backlash.

But this situation is the latest example of the delicate line that companies have been walking over the past few years in light of the world’s renewed reckoning on race. Two-thirds of S&P 500
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companies expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, according to As You Sow, a California-based group that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility. And such companies have received both kudos and criticism for doing so from a politically divided consumer base. 

What’s more, these companies have increasingly been called on to prove that they are as supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion as they say they are — and not merely “woke-washing,” or appropriating the language of social activism into marketing materials without addressing their own complicity with the problem, or actually following through with meaningful action. 

More on MarketWatch

Companies declared ‘Black lives matter’ last year, and now they’re being asked to prove it

Facebook, Amazon, Google and others pledged billions for racial justice in 2020. Tracking where all the money went is ‘almost impossible.’

‘Backlash is real’: Yes, your workplace is probably racist — but how do you even begin to tackle the problem?

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