Sephora unveils plan to combat racism in its stores

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Sephora pledged to stock more black-owned beauty brands and cut back on outside security guards under a new plan to combat racism in its stores.

The cosmetics chain rolled out the plan Wednesday alongside the results of a survey that documented how people of color often face discrimination across the retail industry.

The year-long survey showed that black shoppers in the US were two and a half times more likely than white people to experience unfair treatment based on their race or skin tone. Such discrimination was reported by two out of every five shoppers, the research found.

“The reality is that shoppers at Sephora, and in US retail more broadly, are not always treated fairly and consistently,” Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, said in a statement.

Sephora started the survey in the fall of 2019, months after Grammy-nominated R&B star SZA shined a spotlight on racial profiling in retail.

The “Love Galore” singer, who is black, said in April 2019 that an employee at a California Sephora store called security on her to make sure she wasn’t stealing. Sephora closed stores for an hour to give employees diversity training about a month after she spoke out.

SZA’s experience likely wasn’t an isolated incident. Several current and former Sephora staffers told Bloomberg News about discriminatory or insensitive behavior they encountered, such as a manager telling employees to follow Somali shoppers around a store near Minneapolis.

Sephora’s new anti-discrimination plan calls for reducing the presence of third-party security personnel in its stores and relying more on “in-house specialists” to minimize customers’ concerns about policing.

The chain also pledged to double its assortment of black-owned brands by the end of this year and feature them under a dedicated tab on its website. The company’s survey found that about two thirds of US retail shoppers think stores fail to deliver an “equally-distributed” mix of products that caters to different people’s tastes and preferences.

Additionally, Sephora’s plan calls for recruiting programs to help the chain hire people of color and unconscious bias training for all new staffers.

“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,” Rougeot said.

With Post wires

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