Sephora to fight against racial bias with an action plan

NEW YORK (AP) — Beauty retailer Sephora plans to increase the diversity in its product offerings and offer more inclusive marketing as part of a wide-reaching plan to combat racially biased experiences and unfair treatment for its customers.

The plan, announced Wednesday, follows the results of a study commissioned by Sephora that took an in-depth look at racial bias in the U.S. retail shopping experience. The study, based on a combination of employee and shopper surveys and academic research, began in the fall of 2019 and ended in late 2020. It found that 2 in 5 U.S. retail shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone. It also found that Black shoppers are more likely than white shoppers to receive unfair treatment based on their skin color.

The issue of racial bias has taken on more importance for companies in the wake of nationwide protests over police brutality last summer after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

As part of the plan, Sephora, a division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, plans to double the assortment of Black-owned brands to 16 by the end of 2021. It will also prominently feature and advertise Black-owned brands through a dedicated tab on the Sephora website, which is already in progress. It also plans to roll out a new greeting system for shoppers across all stores to ensure a more consistent experience.

Among other changes: Sephora will also reduce the presence of third-party security officers at its 500 U.S. stores and use more in-house specialists, with the goal of minimizing shoppers’ concerns about policing.

“We know we are in a strong position to influence positive changes in the retail industry and society at large and it’s our responsibility to step up,” said Jean-Andre Rougeot, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, in a statement.