Sephora Closes US Stores For Inclusion Workshop

Beauty company Sephora will shut the doors to all of its stores, distribution centers, and its US corporate office on June 5 to host inclusion workshops for its employees. The company announced the decision in May, a month after singer SZA said she was racially profiled at a California store.

Sephora announced the inclusion workshops in a statement posted on its Facebook page on May 23. The notice was accompanied by a video promoting the company’s “We Belong to Something Beautiful” campaign. “Sephora believes in championing all beauty, living with courage, and standing fearlessly together to celebrate our differences,” the video said. “We will never stop building a community where diversity is expected, self-expression is honored, all are welcomed, and you are included.”

In a statement to The North Star, Sephora said that it has been working on its “We Belong to Something Beautiful” campaign for a year and that the plan to close US locations for a one-hour inclusivity workshop had been in the works for more than six months. The workshop will include all 16,000 employees working for Sephora. There are more than 460 Sephora stores across the Americas, according to the company’s website. “This store closure is part of a long journey in our aspiration to create a more inclusive beauty community and workplace, which has included forming employee resource groups, building social impact and philanthropic programs, and hosting inclusive mindset training for all supervisors,” Sephora said in its statement. The company clarified that its campaign to hold inclusion workshops did not stem from SZA’s experience.

“However, it does reinforce why belonging is now more important than ever. Our entire organization is excited to set aside this time to re-commit to building an environment of inclusion,” the statement said. “We’ll be discussing what it means to belong, across many different lenses that include, but are not limited to, gender identity, race and ethnicity, age, abilities, and more.”

SZA tweeted about being racially profiled at a Southern California Sephora on April 30. “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 tweeted.

She added, “Can a b— cop her fenty in peace er whut (sic),” referring to Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty makeup line. According to PEOPLE, the tweet caught Rihanna’s attention and prompted her to send SZA a Fenty Beauty gift card and handwritten note. Sephora also apologized to the “Love Galore” singer for the experience. “We want to let you know we take complaints like this very seriously and are actively working with our teams to address the situation immediately,” Sephora tweeted to SZA on May 1. The singer, who once worked at a Sephora store, has not commented on the company’s inclusion workshops.

Retail companies have an unfortunate history of racial profiling at their brick and mortar sites. In 2014, Macy’s agreed to pay $650,000 to settle complaints at its flagship New York City store, NPR reported. Eighteen customers claimed that they were racially profiled and accused of stealing or attempting to steal merchandise. Barneys in New York reached a similar deal in August 2014 that included a $525,000 fine, according to the New York Daily News. The retail company was forced to hire an independent anti-profiling consultant and implement a record-keeping protocol to track profiling and interactions with local law enforcement. The deal was the conclusion of a nine-month investigation prompted by complaints from two Black customers who said they were falsely accused of credit card fraud.

In 2017, four former Macy’s employees sued the company for allegedly racially profiling against Asian customers, Huff Post reported. Sales associates in the flagship store were asked to “look out for” or “not sell to” Asian shoppers. The suit claimed that the directive was based on the belief that foreign customers would buy products to resell in Asia. Macy’s denied the allegations.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.