Sephora and 27 other retailers, along with the Open to All nonprofit, have signed the Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter, marking their commitment to concrete steps that will improve equality across the industry. The charter is designed to create a more welcoming environment for all by reducing racially biased experiences and unfair treatment of shoppers.
The Mitigate Racial Bias in Retail Charter was inspired by the Racial Bias in Retail Study, a national study commissioned by Sephora that explored the ways in which BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) shoppers experience discrimination in retail settings. The report found that two in five shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin tone, and that BIPOC retail shoppers were three times more likely than white shoppers to feel most often judged by their appearance.
“The study underscored the pervasiveness of unfair treatment of BIPOC shoppers in retail spaces throughout this country,” said Calla Rongerude, Director of Open to All in a statement. “We believe the retail industry should have a zero-tolerance discrimination policy. With the commitments from these companies, we can begin to address the problem, act, and start to make shopping more inclusive. Our goal is to create an environment that is truly open to all. We hope companies across the retail sector will join us, sign the charter and work together to create meaningful impact and share best practices.”
Retailers that sign the charter are acknowledging that racially biased and unfair treatment exists broadly in our society and can impact the retail experience. They have all pledged to design and implement actions that mitigate racial bias within the shopper experience, help foster inclusive shopping experiences and work together to share best practices that can drive change. Ways retailers can support the charter include:
- Increasing diversity across marketing, products, branding and the workforce to help prevent exclusionary treatment before shoppers enter a store;
- Providing critical employee training on the experience of shoppers of color to help address the disconnect between how BIPOC shoppers and store employees interpret interactions; and
- Creating a feedback mechanism to improve service and report back on any meaningful actions and progress toward fostering more inclusive experiences for BIPOC shoppers.
“At Sephora, diversity, equity and inclusion have long been core to our mission since our U.S. debut more than 20 years ago — but we recognized that the retail experience has not always been welcoming,” said Jean-André Rougeot, President and CEO of Sephora Americas in a statement. “When we first commissioned the Racial Bias in Retail Study in 2019, it was our intent that the findings would serve as useful insights for the entire retail sector, including Sephora. Today, we are proud to have this work resonate in such a deeply impactful way via the charter, and with the commitment of so many retail signatories, we can collectively work to change the retail experience on a much faster and broader scale. We celebrate those that have joined and encourage others to sign on, as it’s not about perfection, it’s about a commitment to progress for shoppers today and tomorrow.”
The other retailers that have joined the charter to date, some of which encompass multiple brands, are: American Eagle; Ascena Retail Group; Ben & Jerry’s; Capri Holdings; CarMax; Crocs; DICK’S Sporting Goods; Gap; H&M; J. Crew; Levi Strauss & Co.; Michaels; Movado Group; Tapestry; rue 21; and Zara.