In May, the retailer launched “We Belong to Something Beautiful,” a public commitment to inclusivity accompanied by the announcement that Sephora would close all of its U.S. stores, distribution centers and corporate headquarters to host a one-day internal workshop. Today, Sephora announced phase two of its campaign, “Color Up Close,” which according to Karalyn Smith, Sephora’s chief people officer, will include a “comprehensive, long-term inclusion learning program” for its employees.
“We know that unconscious bias is real, and too often this negatively affects the retail experience for people from diverse backgrounds,” Smith said. “This next phase of the [We Belong to Something Beautiful] campaign, ‘Color Up Close,’ honors the diversity of all of our clients, and with it, we are implementing a series of actions that will continue to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment at Sephora.”
The series of actions includes a learning program aimed at improving the retailer’s internal employee community experiences, as well as those of its customers. Sephora tapped the NeuroLeadership Institute to implement the trainings and expects that by the end of the year, all of its U.S. staff will have participated in “at least 10 different learning touch points.” These touch points focus on topics such as creating inclusive work environments, understanding gender expression and color matching.
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Sephora has also formed its own group of “equity advisers” comprised of influencers and advocates it believes to be “at the center of race, equity and culture,” Smith said. Additionally, Sephora will put out a study on the state of bias in retail, focusing particularly on the experiences of people of color.
The announcement comes four months after Sephora caught heat for a tweet from singer SZA, in which she said an employee working at the Calabasas, Calif., location “called security to make sure I wasn’t stealing.” She had apparently been shopping for Fenty Beauty.
The retailer responded to SZA’s tweet, writing, “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores.”
But Sephora is not the only beauty retailer to come under fire for racial profiling in recent months.
Earlier this week, beauty Instagram collective Estée Laundry shared a post claiming it had “received repeated stories from [people of color] about racial profiling from Ulta.”
The post included what appears to be a screenshot of an Instagram story from user @adeola.ash, followed by a series of direct messages Estée Laundry apparently received from other users.
When reached for comment, an Ulta Beauty spokesperson said, “These accounts are disappointing and contrary to our training and policies. We stand for equality, inclusivity and acceptance and strive to create a space that is welcoming to all. That is why we have our associates participate in ongoing trainings on diversity and inclusion. This is our responsibility and we take it seriously. We know it is about daily action and accountability. We will continue to reinforce our policies and values across the company because we never want to hear that a guest has anything less than a great in-store experience.”
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