This past week, Sephora closed down each of its 400+ stores for a day of diversity training. Could the training have been a useless shutdown?
The shut down impacted 16,000 employees who participated in an hour-long training on diversity. The call to train staff members came after Grammy-nominated singer SZA was racially profiled at a Calabasas, California branch of the chain store. The singer tweeted about the incident, stating she was attempting to buy makeup from Rihanna’s product line Fenty when she was followed by personnel. Following the incident, Rihanna reached out and sent a gift card for future makeup purchases.
The hour-long training is believed to be too short a time period to an actual make an impact in ensuring future incidents like SZA’s do not occur in the future. MarketWatch connected with Cecilia Orellana-Rojas, Vice President of Strategy and Research at the National Diversity Council, who shared that she believes more time is needed to actually create a difference.
“It doesn’t work because you really have to address and explain concepts like unconscious bias, racism, and sexism, and it’s not impactful or effective when you really want employees to understand the behaviors that need to be changed or addressed,” said Orellana-Rojas.
A day after the incident with Top Dawg Entertainment star occurred, Sephora issued an apology in a response tweet, which preceded the training.
Forbes details a statement Sephora made in regards to the workshops, revealing the training was planned before the SZA incident and was a part of a marketing campaign to be more all-inclusive for shoppers. The campaign is called “We Belong to Something Beautiful.”
The Sephora shut down is similar to that of Starbucks and Gucci in the past.
The May 2018 sessions for Starbucks stemmed from a white employee calling police on two black men who were waiting on a business partner and Gucci was under the microscope at the start of the year for a sweater that drew comparisons to blackface.
The need for diversity and inclusion training has resulted in hiring professionals who can lead the training for the corporations. This will add to the price tag of $8 billion spent every year training personnel. While the training is thought to be essential, MarketWatch discloses the training efforts have a high risk of failure when they are mandatory or have restrictions on who will take the course. When the training is optional it is thought to be received better by employees who want to actually cause a change.
After the hour-long shutdown, Sephora reopened for a full day of retail.