Renowned global beauty brand Sephora has recently revealed its plans to revamp its training employee programmes and increase its support for Black-owned businesses. The company changes come as an attempt to stamp out racism within the retail industry while encouraging other brands to follow suit.
A new study commissioned by the beauty retailer found that two in five shoppers reportedly encountered unfair treatment at US retail stores bases on their ethnicity or skin colour. Black shoppers said they were more likely to experience discrimination like being made to wait longer or being suspected of misbehaviour compared to other shoppers.
Following the study’s findings, Sephora is now calling for industry-wide reform. President and CEO of Sephora Americas, Jean-Andre Rougeot says it is the company’s responsibility to step up.
“We know we are in a strong position to influence positive changes in the retail industry and society at large.”
As well as improving staff training, Sephora will also introduce performance ratings for behaviours promoting inclusivity in the workplace and across the company’s 500 shops across the US. Sephora will allow zero tolerance for any discriminatory behaviour among staff and employees who violate the rules will be immediately terminated.
To diminish customer concerns about racial profiling and policing, the company plans to lessen the number of third-party security personnel assigned to its stores. Instead, in-house train will be provided for customer service specialists who will follow a new method of greeting and assisting customers, ensuring a consistent shopping experience for the diversity of the market.
“The goal is to provide more consistent experiences for all shoppers and to minimise concerns regarding store policing,” says George-Axelle Broussillon Matschinga, Sephora’s vice-president of diversity and inclusion.
Black-owned businesses will also have greater prominence, with Sephora marketing their products to a wider consumer base. Both the company’s physical and online stores will have an increase of 16 more Black-owned brands before the year ends.
Sephora’s chief marketing officer, Deborah Yeh, says she hopes Sephora’s colleagues and partners will join the company in its shift.
“Our study may not paint the most favourable picture of the retail industry, but we are being open because one retailer cannot fix this problem.”