The France-based beauty chain Sephora will be closing all U.S. stores on June 5 for a day of “inclusivity training” following accusations of racial profiling from R&B singer SZA, according to Forbes.
“The beauty products juggernaut will shut down more than 400 stores to tackle diversity during a 1-hour session,” reports the outlet.
This past April, Sephora fell subject to severe scrutiny when singer SZA testified on Twitter to being racially profiled at a store in Calabasas, California. She claimed at the time a staff member called security on her in fear she might be stealing.
“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,” SZA tweeted.
On May 1, Sephora responded to the tweet saying, “You are a part of the Sephora family, and we are committed to ensuring every member of our community feels welcome and included at our stores.” A few weeks later, the store announced that every U.S. store, distribution center, and corporate would be closing for one day in order to conduct inclusion workshops.
“Sephora believes in championing all beauty, living with courage, and standing fearlessly together to celebrate our differences,” the announcement said. “We will never stop building a community where diversity is respected, self-expression is honored, all are welcomed, and you are included. We belong to something beautiful.”
As noted by CNN, Sephora’s day of inclusion training almost mirrors what happened to Starbucks after the coffee chain faced accusations of racial profiling when a store manager called the police on a black man for refusing to buy something in order to use the restroom.
“The coffee chain closed its 8,000 stores nationwide in 2018 for diversity training following an incident in which police were called on two African American men who were meeting at a Philadelphia location,” reports the outlet. “Starbucks has since changed its policy so purchases are no longer required in order to spend time in a Starbucks or use the restroom.”
Time magazine reported that one single day of diversity training cost the company roughly $12 million in revenue. As LA Mag reports, few employees actually felt the training made an impact and believed the policy changes to the bathroom privileges would make some stores become loitering farms. Frank Dobbin, a Harvard sociology professor, even told Time that diversity training at such large chains produces little to no results.
“It is the most common step companies take,” Dobbin said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to do much good on average for companies to offer diversity training, because they say you can’t really change people’s inherent biases with a training session.”
Surprisingly, Sephora has faced scrutiny in the past from another social justice constituency which accused the chain of cultural appropriation: Wiccans. Apparently, as Halloween approached last year, Sephora released a “starter witch kit,” which included perfumes, a chunk of rose quartz, some tarot cards, and a “sage smudging stick.”
“I don’t think they’re doing it to spread awareness about the craft, they’re doing it just for profit in my opinion. Although most witches do use what’s in the Sephora box, most of us feel that it’s wrong for just anyone to grab those things and be like ‘oh hey I’m a witch now,” because it’s sacred to us,” one angered Wiccan told Metro UK at the time.