Retailer Scaling Back Security Guards to Combat Racial Bias

“Shopping while black” is a phrase used to refer to biased treatment Black shoppers often face in retail stores like falsely being accused of theft or being shadowed by security guards. Now, makeup brand Sephora is using its platform to counter that bias.

The beauty haven released a study Wednesday centering around racial bias in retail and the results revealed several key findings the company plans to take action against.

The study found that two in five US retail shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone. It also found that Black retail shoppers are 2.5 times more likely than white shoppers to receive unfair treatment based on their skin color (44% vs. 17%), while Black, Indigenous and shoppers of color are two times more likely than white shoppers to receive unfair treatment based on their ethnicity (30% vs. 15%).

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Additionally, the study found that one in five retail employees report having personally experienced unfair treatment based on their race at their place of work (20%) — either from customers or coworkers and that “one in three retail employees have contemplated quitting when they experienced racial bias and unfair treatment (31% for all employees; 37% for Black employees).

Sephora’s study also found that limited diversity across marketing, merchandise and retail employees results in exclusionary treatment before shoppers even enter a store, and continues across their in-store journey.

It also highlighted that US retail shoppers of color use coping mechanisms, such as shopping online, to minimize or avoid an anticipated biased experience when in-store. While many customer experience needs are universal, shoppers of color have some needs that hold greater importance in helping them feel welcome.

“At Sephora, diversity, equality, and inclusion have been our core values since we launched a new kind of beauty retail destination in the US over 20 years ago – but the reality is that shoppers at Sephora, and in US retail more broadly, are not always treated fairly and consistently,” Jean-André Rougeot, president and CEO, Sephora Americas said in a statement.

He continued, “We know that we’re in a strong position to influence positive changes in the retail industry and society at large and it’s our responsibility to step up. We’re committed to doing all we can to make our US retail experience more welcoming for everyone.”

Sephora also presented a preliminary action plan to address bias across its various platforms.

Key action items include…  ABC Go News

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