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Sephora Updates DEI Plan, Adds More Black-owned Beauty Brands, Takes Cue From Its Owners On Marketing

(Image: iStock.com/RiverNorthPhotography)

Sephora is rolling out new measures to increase the amount of Black-owned beauty brands in its stores, according to a progress report about diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, shared with BLACK ENTERPRISE.

Previously, BLACK ENTERPRISE reported how beauty companies like Sephora were working to foster more diversity and inclusion initiatives amidst negative criticisms from Black employees. Now the company says it is on track with reaching its goals to diversify its retail stores. At the time of the 15 Percent Pledge in June 2020, Sephora carried eight Black-owned brands, now it says it will add more than double their assortment of Black beauty brands overall, including achieving the 15% benchmark in prestige haircare by year’s end.

“The in-store experience depends on where brands are in their lifecycle,” said, Deborah Yeh, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Sephora Americas.

Yeh said the retailer is learning from the founders of the Black-owned brands on how to market the merchandise.

“Many of them will appear in Next Big Thing, which is where we put all of our hot new brand launches, as well as in the main gondola areas. We have developed a Black-owned at Sephora seal they can choose to use, but it is

optional to the founders as to how they want to tell their story. For consumers, we have a landing page and a number of digital resources to find those products. But within the in-store environment, it is still at the discretion of the brand founders. We believe it’s their right to choose how they want to represent themselves.”

Within the Action Plan share-out in January, Sephora pledged to establish new guidelines to ensure their campaigns, social media and marketing content included a diverse array of backgrounds, identities, ages, and body types.

Black-owned brands now comprise 15% of Sephora’s total social and digital content, up from 11% in June 2020. In addition, in 2021 Sephora implemented dedicated quarterly campaigns to drive awareness of Black-owned brands including a sephora.com landing page.

Sephora has also broadened its cultural appeal by launching campaigns for holidays such as Lunar New Year and Eid al-Fitr. It has included double the number of Spanish-language YouTube videos and added closed-captioning to all content shared via Sephora’s Instagram TV.

“These are things you can push forward into pretty quickly, and then there are other places where we are laddering into pipelines and building training and transitioning,” Yeh said. “Those places will have a massive impact, but we’re going to take a little bit longer.”

Since June of last year, Sephora has grown Black or African American leadership across its stores, distribution centers and corporate offices from 6% to 9%. The Black store Directors representation increased from 6 to 10%, according to the company.

“We’ve been able to make a huge amount of progress in the retail areas of the business, but quite frankly, we’re looking at our stores, distribution centers and corporate offices as places where we can further increase diversity across our work force,” Yeh said.