International beauty omnichannel retailer Sephora has launched a bold new action plan to mitigate racially biased experiences for its customers, suppliers and employees, as it strives to foster greater inclusivity in its business and the wider global retail industry.
Backed by a new national Racial Bias in Retail Study, which Sephora is making available to all retailers, the action plan to tackle unfair treatment includes a number of key changes to its US stores, product ranges, marketing and workforce strategies.
According to the Sephora study, two in five US retail shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone and one in five retail employees report having personally experienced unfair treatment based on their race at their place of work.
Sephora Americas President and CEO Jean-André Rougeot said: “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 retail more broadly, are not always treated fairly and consistently.
“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 US retail experience more welcoming for everyone.
The action plan to tackle bias covers three key areas: Marketing and merchandising, in-store experience and operations, talent and inclusive workplaces.
On marketing and merchandising, Sephora has pledged to double its assortment of Black-owned brands by the end of 2021.
It has also committed to prominently feature and advertise Black-owned brands through a dedicated tab on the Sephora website.
It will also establish new marketing production guidelines that reinforce consideration of a diverse array of backgrounds, identities, ages and body types in its campaigns, social media and marketing.
A series of key actions have also been pledged in its US stores, including the roll out of a new greeting system to ensure a more consistent experience for all store visitors.
A new training module for all Beauty Advisors that better defines positive client engagement and what behaviours will not be tolerated, will also be created.
A new D&I In-Store Experience Dashboard to better monitor client service and feedback will also be implemented, while the presence of third-party security vendors in stores will be reduced.
Operational changes will also be made to better allow beauty advisors to focus solely on client service.
The brand will also take a number of key actions to create a more inclusive workplace, including the creation of a new recruitment, mentorship, community, and career development program to support the sourcing, hiring and advancement of employees of colour.
It will also increase the frequency and depth of employee training, adding new modules that offer strategies to identify bias and exhibit inclusive behaviours in the workplace.
Sephora will continue to communicate its progress against these actions on a bi-annual basis via a new D&I dedicated section of Sephora.com.