In June of 2020, Sephora pledged to make the shopping and employment environment more inclusive and equitable for customers, employees and the larger beauty community. Recently, Sephora announced key milestones and accomplishments toward its drive to create an inclusive environment for all. The company is aligning its strategy with its culture and is following through on the commitments it made in June of 2020, which include increasing Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) owned brands in the merchandise assortment, joining the 15 Percent Pledge, and creating training modules for employees on anti-racism, unconscious bias and cultural allyship.
Merchandise assortment to represent more diversity of products and business ownership
Sephora carried eight Black-owned brands as of June 2020. In the current report, the company is projecting to more than double that number by the end of 2021. Additionally, last year it adapted the 2021 Sephora Accelerate brand incubator program to focus exclusively on cultivating and launching BIPOC owned brands at Sephora. The program included 54 Thrones, Eadem, Glory, Hyper Skin, Imania Beauty, Kulfi Beauty, Ries and Topicals, all of whom graduated in June 2021 from the program.
Racial Bias in Retail National Study
Sephora made available to all retailers the details of its national Racial Bias in Retail study with the goal of encouraging all retailers to take action aimed at mitigating racially biased behavior in the retail industry. As part of its commitment to improving the industry, the company introduced a plan to create a more inclusive marketing programming and a broader training program for employees. The goal was to combat systemic racism in retail. Leveraging the key findings of the study, Sephora created a Cultural Allyship for BIPOC Shoppers training for all store directors in July and the training will be rolled out to all beauty advisors.
Sephora has created a diversity and inclusion (D&I) In-Store Experience Dashboard giving transparency and visibility to the regional teams. Deborah Yeh, Chief Marketing Officer of Sephora said, “We’ve been seeing a correspondence between training engagement and improved customer experiences.” Sephora plans to continue to use these tools to learn and improve continually as a team.
Employee training and development to cultivate an inclusive culture
Sephora has focused on training existing employees on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and increasing the amount of diversity within its leadership team. Specifically, it has grown Black or African American leadership across its stores, distribution centers and corporate offices from 6% to 9%. Its Black Store Directors representation increased from 6 to 10%. Yeh said, “Building a more diverse workforce isn’t just about recruitment. It also includes cultivating the talent that already exists in your organization and ensuring there are pathways to success.”
Sephora created an incubator program that taps into a range of allies at the company who have raised their hands to participate in the DEI journey. Yeh stated, “Personally, this is an area I’m passionate about. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Sephora wasn’t just a place known for diversity ‘by the numbers’, but really pioneered best practices in inclusive leadership?” Yeh discussed how, as an Asian American woman, having strong people around her was beneficial. She said, “I was grateful that I wasn’t truly alone. I had advocates who gave me a chance to be in the room, mentors I could turn to, and the kind of coworkers I felt comfortable commiserating with.”
In addition, Sephora created 19 new inclusivity training modules, focusing on anti-racism, unconscious bias and cultural allyship, required to be taken by all Sephora retail employees, including a series that trains all Sephora employees to recognize and mitigate their unconscious biases.
Successful influencer marketing programs provide a broader and more diverse audience
One of the big successes of Sephora’s commitment to creating inclusive messaging with a more diverse audience is its influencer group, which currently has 79% of members identifying as people of color (compared to 51% in 2020). The number of BIPOC members has increased by 61% since its inception in 2019. The influencer group is known as the Sephora Squad and a few years ago it intentionally set a benchmark for diversity through community advocacy in the application process. In the third year of the Sephora Squad, 73 new members were added which is the largest amount since its inception in 2019. Additionally, 22% of the 2021 Sephora Squad are Spanish speaking, representing an increase from 8 to 16 members since 2019. Yeh stated, “We’re developing Spanish language content for a number of platforms, not just YouTube. For instance, we recently have been doing mini-content in Instagram Stories where you ‘tap once for English, tap twice for Spanish.’ For bilingual consumers, the option to pick one’s preferred language is a simple way we can tailor the experience to be more welcoming.”
Sephora has built mini-campaigns to celebrate important holiday milestones for a wider range of cultures, such as Lunar New Year and Eid al-Fitr. Yeh said, “We featured more of our non-profit partners in our content, creating space for new voices aligned with our values of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice from organizations like National CARES Mentoring Movement, Act to Change and National Black Justice Coalition.”
Sephora continues to create programs to fulfill its commitment to further DEI initiatives in the workplace and in the shopper journey.