Sephora To Host Diversity Training In Wake Of Controversy

Published on June 4, 2019

Just a few months ago, singer SZA took to social media to express her disdain over the way she was racially profiled in a Sephora store in Calabasas, California. The pop star posted to twitter about her experience, claiming that a store employee assumed she was stealing and called security to come to the store. Typical racial profiling doesn’t mean that a company shouldn’t be held accountable. Now, in response to the Tweet, Sephora has announced that it will be closing all of its stores, shipping centers, and corporate offices in the United States on June 5 for a session of diversity training to help avoid these sorts of PR mishaps in the future.

Sephora Accused Of Racial Profiling

“Lmao Sandy Sephora location 614 Calabasas called security to make sure I wasn’t stealing . We had a long talk. U have a blessed day Sandy,” the singer said on her Twitter account back in April. The tweet soon went viral, as celebrity call outs tend to do, forcing Sephora to acknowledge the situation head on. The company wasted no time responding to the tweet (probably after a few meetings with the PR team) saying, “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores.” Since the company has been working hard to diversify itself in its campaigns, and the fact that the brand is also dependent on other major beauty brands, it had to do some major damage control, quickly.

Beyond simply responding to the tweet with a statement or firing the employee behind the problem, Sephora has committed to encouraging its employees to learn more about diversity and how they can combat deeply institutionalized racism in how they treat their customers. Sephora will be shutting down all of its stores, offices, and fulfillment centers to give a one-hour diversity training session on June 5.

The company first announced the training session on May 23, taking a page out of Starbucks’ book. The world famous coffee company opted to give a diversity workshop in the wake of a similar situation in 2018. Some employees praised the company for making the decision to hold an educational event in the wake of an act of racism, others worried that the small dedication to change would not be enough.

New Diversity Campaigns

“Sephora believes in championing all beauty, living with courage, and standing fearlessly together to celebrate our differences. We will never stop building a community where diversity is expected, self expression is honored, all are welcomed, and you are included. We belong to something beautiful,” the company wrote in a video that was posted to its Facebook page shortly after the scandal. The company assures that the video, and campaign, were created prior to the scandal with SZA, but its plans to close for a period of time on June 5 will be its way of patching things together.

The beauty industry has been working overtime to diversify itself over the last couple of years. The rise in diverse beauty influencers has pushed the industry to be held accountable for creating diverse campaigns and products that reflect a wide variety of consumers. It’s why consumers are seeing things like shade range increases, a diverse lineup of models in beauty campaigns, and a greater expectation that brands must adhere to. Especially considering the makeup industry is rooted so deeply in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s not outlandish to expect beauty companies to leave no room for error when it comes to diversity.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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