Sephora commissioned the study in 2019, months before social injustice protests took place in the US and around the world last Spring.
“At Sephora, diversity, equality, and inclusion have been our core values since we launched a new kind of beauty retail destination in the US over 20 years ago—but the reality is that shoppers at Sephora, and in US retail more broadly, are not always treated fairly and consistently,” said Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO, Sephora Americas. “We know that we’re in a strong position to influence positive changes in the retail industry and society at large and it’s our responsibility to step up. We’re committed to doing all we can to make our U.S. retail experience more welcoming for everyone. Today, we are proud to share a first-look at Sephora’s action plan designed to tackle the issue of unfair treatment. We know it will be a journey, but we’re committed to holding ourselves accountable to this mission for the benefit of our clients, our employees, our communities, and the retail industry at large.”
According to Sephora, Black shoppers are three times more likely than white shoppers to feel judged for their ethnicity and complexion, yet 60% of retail employees cite shoppers’ behavioral attributes, rather than physical ones, when deciding how to approach or interact with them.
Retail employees said they recognize the importance of servicing diverse shopper needs, however, 35% expressed concern over their store lacking the proper training to help them serve shoppers of different races, according to study results. Nearly 60% of retail employees expressed a desire for training on how to service a diverse set of shopper needs, but only 53% have received diversity, equity and inclusion training. Even fewer, 40%, have received unconscious bias training.
Going forward, Sephora's action plan includes:
Marketing and Merchandising
- Building on Sephora’s commitment to the 15 Percent Pledge, the company will double its assortment of Black-owned brands by the end of 2021.
- Prominently feature and advertise Black-owned brands through a dedicated tab on the Sephora website, which is already in progress.
- Evolve the 2021 Accelerate brand incubator program to focus exclusively on cultivating and growing BIPOC- owned and founded brands.
- Establish new marketing production guidelines that reinforce consideration of a diverse array of backgrounds, identities, ages and body types in our campaigns, social media, marketing and more.
- Continue cultivating one of the industry’s most diverse influencer groups through the Sephora Squad.
The In-Store Experience and Operations
- Roll out a new greeting system across all stores to ensure a more consistent experience for all store visitors upon entry.
- Create new training modules required for all Beauty Advisors that better define what client engagement should look like at each point in the shopping experience and what behaviors will not be tolerated.
- Establish a D&I In-Store Experience Dashboard that will provide analytics on client service and feedback to stores on a monthly basis to measure employee training compliance and efficacy.
- Implement new client feedback mechanisms to better identify incidents of bias, including those experienced by non- purchasers.
- Reduce the presence of third-party security vendors in stores and utilize more in-house specialists, with the goal of providing better client care and minimizing shoppers’ concerns of policing.
- Implement procedural and operational changes to better allow Beauty Advisors to focus solely on client service, versus other tasks that can create a friction or misperception by shoppers.
Talent and Inclusive Workplaces
- Build new recruiting, mentorship, community, and career development programs to support the sourcing, hiring and advancement of employees of color.
- Building on its Pull Up For Change commitment, Sephora will transparently share progress on employee representation on a bi-annual basis at Sephora.com.
- Ensure all corporate team members have D&I goals as part of their annual performance metrics.
- Update zero-tolerance policies that prohibit discrimination, harassment and other violations of our code of conduct to ensure clearer communication, expectation and enforcement of our policies for employees, including set outcomes if violated.
- Ensure 100% participation with foundational Unconscious Bias training for all new hires.
- Increase the frequency and depth of employee trainings, adding new modules that offer strategies to identify bias and exhibit inclusive behaviors in the workplace.