Last year, Sephora commissioned a large-scale national survey to measure the issue of racial bias experienced by U.S. retail shoppers. The Racial Bias in Retail study was conducted over the course of the 2019-2020 calendar year, and entailed comprehensive qualitative and quantitative research, including academic literature reviews and cultural insights.
The results — which Sephora has made publicly available to all retailers nationwide — uphold the fact that racial bias is a pervasive issue in America today, finding that two in five U.S. retail shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone. in response to the data, Sephora just announced a research-driven diversity and inclusion action plan to mitigate the negative effects of bias, including increased diversity in its product offerings, more inclusive marketing, and updated employee conduct policies.
Two in five shoppers have experienced unfair treatment in a US retail store on the basis of their race or skin tone. We’re rolling out an action plan to create a more equitable shopping experience for all. Learn more: https://t.co/7WiFHdbZ6c pic.twitter.com/wAO1L1awJx
— Sephora (@Sephora) January 13, 2021
In this effort, Sephora is building upon its 15 Percent Pledge — the commitment to dedicate 15% of Sephora shelf space to Black-owned companies — with the goal of doubling its current assortment of Black-owned labels by the end of 2021. To that end, Sephora will also prominently feature and advertise Black-owned brands through a dedicated tab on its website, and plans to continue to mentor, fund, and support female and BIPOC-founded brands through its Sephora Accelerate program.
In terms of a safe and inclusive in-store experience, Sephora will be rolling out a new greeting system across stores to ensure a more consistent experience for all shoppers. New training will be required for all employees, which will better define what service should look like, and what behaviors will not be tolerated. Further, Sephora plans to reduce the presence of third-party security in stores and utilize more in-house specialists, with the goal of providing better service and minimizing shoppers’ concerns of policing.
It sounds like a solid, actionable plan, but Sephora’s President and CEO, Jean-André Rougeot, recognizes there is much work to be done. “The reality is that shoppers at Sephora, and in U.S. retail more broadly, are not always treated fairly and consistently,” says Rougeot in a statement, adding that accountability is the first step of many. “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.”
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