What’s behind Target’s new openness

November 21, 2014, 9:26 PM UTC
Photograph by Scott Gilbertson--Gilbertson Photography

For the first time in a long time, Target (TGT) hit the bulls-eye.

Though the retailer still has huge problems in Canada and a consumer who is too pinched to spend freely, Target reported better-than-expected earnings on November 19, up 3.2% from the previous year’s third quarter.

The numbers are promising—but not a guarantee that Target’s back on track. But there is one significant difference that is less obvious than a bump in sales: The once-insular company is becoming much more open than ever before.

There’s been a sea change in Target’s culture ever since former PepsiCo Americas Foods CEO Brian Cornell, who was a potential successor to PepsiCo (PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi’s, took over in August.

I’ve been a long-time Target watcher—and the company’s newfound transparency is refreshing. In October at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, I spoke to EVP and Chief Merchandising and Supply Chain Officer Kathee Tesija about the challenging year that Target had had (“Kind of,” she acknowledged, with quite deliberate understatement). The mere fact that Tesija was willing to talk without handlers signaled a big shift for Target’s top executives.

Tesija is one of Target’s most senior executives and one of four female members of the company’s nine-person leadership team. She seemed genuinely excited to have Cornell, the company’s first outsider CEO, on board. (She had been rumored to be a vocal critic of Gregg Steinhafel, his predecessor: “Don’t believe everything you read,” she told me when I asked about the rumors.) “We are so excited to have Brian on board,” Tesija said. “His enthusiasm for our guest and our businesses is contagious. And he’s really been fun to work with.”

Watch the rest of my interview with Tesija here:

“From the MPW Co-chairs” is a series where the editors who oversee the Fortune Most Powerful Women brand share their insights about women leaders.

Read More

Great ResignationDiversity and InclusionCompensationCEO DailyCFO DailyModern Board