Tractor Supply Company Faced Conservative Backlash Over Its DEI Initiatives

Tractor Supply is the latest company to face a coordinated DEI backlash.


Jul. 1 2024, Published 9:40 a.m. ET

A Tractor Supply Company sign against the sky.
Source: Getty Images

The culture wars continue to rage on. Tractor Supply Company, which advertises itself as the "largest rural lifestyle retailer," is walking back some of its stated positions on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Following the news that Tractor Supply would no longer pursue these policies, many wanted to learn more about what prompted the change.

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Tractor Supply Company is just the latest in a long line of companies to cave to some form of conservative backlash. Here's what we know about what prompted the change, and what it may mean for the company's future.

A Tractor Supply Company storefront with mulch in the front.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened with Tractor Supply Company?

Tractor Supply Company announced at the end of June 2024 that it would be backing away from "nonbusiness activities" in favor of focusing on its core sales. Its statement elaborated, explaining that the company would stop sponsoring activities like “pride festivals and voting campaigns” and would also be cutting roles related to diversity in addition to a decision to “retire (its) current DEI goals while still ensuring a respectful environment.”

“We have heard from customers that we have disappointed them,” the company explained. “We have taken this feedback to heart.” DEI initiatives have become increasingly common at companies across business sectors, but Tractor Supply's rural, largely conservative customer base meant that the move was always going to be a perilous one in an era when DEI initiatives are often looked at with suspicion.

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The backlash to DEI is far reaching.

Tractor Supply is far from the first company to face a backlash over its decision to create diversity or sustainability goals. While these goals have become increasingly common in the corporate world, they have also faced boycotts from conservatives, as well as efforts to limit their spread from Republican lawmakers. Bud Light faced a similar backlash after they partnered with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney for a Pride Month product.

Source: Twitter/@TractorSupply
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Why are people mad at Tractor Supply?

People are mad at Tractor Supply for both immediately understandable reasons and for other, more deep-seated ones. The most obvious explanation is that Robby Starbuck, a conservative commentator, called attention to their DEI initiative and urged his followers to boycott the company and contact their corporate leadership. After Tractor Supply made its most recent announcement, Robby took to Twitter to proclaim the pull-back a "massive victory."

What Tractor Supply actually did, which involved implementing a DEI program and celebrating its diversity, is obviously not a problem in and of itself. But these kinds of programs have fomented grievance in recent years as they become more and more common.

Because of their customer base, companies like Tractor Supply are uniquely vulnerable to these kinds of boycotts, which appears to be why Tractor Supply backed off so quickly after seeing what had been unleashed by its program. While this may seem like just one company, these kinds of cave-ins are a reminder that celebrating diversity is not a given in America, even in the year 2024.

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