After examining the issue of racial bias in retail, Sephora says it is now taking steps to prevent unfair treatment of shoppers at its stores. Those steps include changes to the beauty chain’s marketing and merchandising efforts, as well as improving the in-store shopper experience. On Wednesday, Sephora announced the results of a year-long study on racial bias that it commissioned beginning in late 2019.
“We recognize that racism and unfair treatment exists broadly in our society,” said Deborah Yeh, chief marketing officer of Sephora Americas, at a press event announcing the retailer’s action plan. “As a retailer with hundreds of stores, thousands of employees [and] millions of clients, Sephora is in a strong position to make our own positive changes
The study reported that three in five shoppers have experienced discriminatory treatment, while two in five have experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin color. In addition, the report found that racial bias for shoppers carries the weight of an “invisible tax or experience burden for select demographics” where consumers have trouble being helped in stores and are sometimes treated suspiciously and subjected to surveillance.
Yeh noted that while many of the problems exist across the retail spectrum, beauty and electronics retailers, which have more interactions and consultations with customers, have “more risks of getting it wrong” for negative experiences on the sales floor for shoppers.