Designing a More Inclusive Sephora 

Sephora selected Material to collaborate on its Racial Bias in Retail Study, a pioneering report published in late 2020 that took on even greater urgency after the social justice movements that year. We set out to understand how racial bias impacts BIPOC shoppers and employees, from shoppers treated poorly because of their race to BIPOC staff contemplating quitting due to unfair treatment. After concluding the research, our goal was to help Sephora implement a plan of action that would enable it to become a more inclusive employer and retailer, as well as an anti-discrimination industry leader.
  • Identified five primary “truths” that defined shopper experiences with bias. 

  • Used those findings to co-create the Racial Bias in Retail Study, which encompassed research from our insights and behavioral science teams, as well a

  • Helped Sephora formulate an action plan across marketing, merchandising, in-store experience, and workplace to drive DEI initiatives and programs.

Sephora became the first major retailer to sign and exceed the 15 Percent Pledge, doubling the number of Black-owned brands they offered by the end of 2021. It also initiated a brand incubator program focusing on BIPOC-owned brands and increased the number of Sephora Squad influencers who identify as BIPOC to 78% in 2022. In addition, it created a Cultural Allyship program to improve the experience for BIPOC shoppers and partnered with nonprofit Open to All to implement the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, which brought together 60 major retailers to take steps to be more inclusive.

As of 2023, 51% of Sephora employees at the manager level and above are people of color (vs 39% in 2020). The retailer has doubled the share of Black leaders in its stores and – a testament to the success of its inclusive policies – received the 2023 Great Place to Work Award. From employee engagement and training, and in-store pilot programs to PR narratives and assets, our work continues to ensure the insights generated help mitigate unfair treatment and racially biased experiences for both employees and shoppers.

Designing a More Inclusive Sephora

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