Innovation Title: Sephora Racial Bias in Retail Study
Organization Website: www.sephora.com
Year Introduced: 2019 (commissioned); 2021 publicly released
What Makes this Study/Report Unique
In mid-January 2021, Sephora released a report on the results of the first-ever large-scale U.S. study on Racial Bias in Retail, commissioned in 2019. Not only did we spearhead a study that has never been done before, but also shared actions we would be implementing across the business, and general steps the retail industry at large could consider. To learn more visit: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5cd4841aaf4683aecca854d0/t/5ffcf05a5b7aeb58a721e39e/1610412123813/Sephora_RacialBias_eBook_FInal.pdf
Purpose and Goal
The goal was to measure the problem of racially driven bias in the U.S. shopper experience and identify opportunities to end unfair treatment. Using our Diversity and Inclusion Heart Journey Strategy and the study’s findings, Sephora designed an action plan focused on three key areas—marketing and merchandising, the in-store experience and operations, and talent and inclusive workplaces—with the goal of mitigating the negative effects of bias.
Benefits and Positive Changes
The Study findings offer retailers timely insights into how to create strategies and implement actions in their own businesses to confront, address, and determine how best to reduce racial bias and unfair treatment. While change will require a comprehensive commitment, the study points to several clear areas where shoppers (specifically BIPOC shoppers) and retail employees believe they can be better served.
Our actions are focused on three core areas of the business, as mentioned above, to tackle bias across all aspects of the organization. We’ve provided our first set of biannual updates against these actions here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5cd4841aaf4683aecca854d0/t/60fedce4a35273540e1f727f/1627315429362/Sephora_Fact_Sheet_June_2021_v5%5B10%5D.pdf
How the Study and Report Are Driving Growth
Sephora shared its action plan via a trio of exclusive stories, with key voices in the equity space and Sephora executives discussing the study and the importance of the work today. This was followed by a press release and reveal of visual assets to achieve widespread awareness and the detailed changes that will be implemented across all U.S. stores.
We shared our new knowledge, insights, and opportunities with other U.S. retailers, who may wish to enact systemic change within their own organizations to better the retail industry at large. Similarly, we partnered with leading trade and diversity organizations Open to All, RILA, and Diversity Best Practices to ensure dissemination to interested retail leaders.
Our study successfully brought widespread attention among retail industry leaders, consumers, and media to the very real issue of underlying racial bias and the nuances of how it manifests in retail environments. The five truths uncovered by the study highlighted tangible actions retailers need to take to ensure shoppers enjoy a sense of belonging in store. In collaboration with Open to All, we are also in the process of launching a #Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, leveraging insights from the Sephora Racial Bias in Retail Study, which will encourage more retailers to foster inclusive experiences for BIPOC shoppers.