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The day that Sephora closed all its stores

The world of fashion has become especially sensitive to discriminatory events. From that mishap suffered by the presenter Oprah Winfrey in the Trois Pommes store in Switzerland in 2013, to the sayings that caused the cancellation of the Dolce & Gabbana show in China in recent months.

However, the conglomerate Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton LVMH has been characterized by supporting diversity in this world of such rigid standards, such as the fashion and luxury sector. “Beauty is diverse and it has many voices and faces,” Sephora’s vice president of marketing, Deborah Ye, said a few years ago.

For this reason, it was surprising that at a Sephora store (a brand that belongs to LVMH) in Calabazas, California, the R & B singer known as SZA was subject to a discriminatory act. The singer said that a store clerk had called security to make sure she was not stealing.

After the event was announced, the company announced that a one-hour workshop on diversity would be given to its 16,000 employees. In the United States alone, Sephora has 10,000 employees, which makes it one of the largest companies that temporarily closes to perform diversity training. However, these types of maneuvers are not new, Starbucks did the same in May 2018 after a similar incident in one of its branches in Philadelphia.

It is worth highlighting two elements of this situation. On the one hand, the complexity of all the people that make up a company know and are trained in the values ​​of the company itself. The companies do not usually give it the importance that it requires that all the organic structure know and act according to the values ​​on which the company was founded. Cases in which workers who are in direct contact with customers are responsible for discriminatory acts are increasingly sound, but this is due to the lack of training in what values ​​represent brands and how to act accordingly.

On the other hand, it is worth asking if a training, whether a day or an hour, are enough to raise awareness among workers about such complicated aspects not only to explain, but to internalize, such as diversity. A one-hour training, on the same day, to all workers, announced through a press release, seems more like a marketing strategy than taking a real commitment against discrimination.

Brands must be aware that information technologies give consumers a lot of power by making companies vulnerable. That is, years ago, an act of discrimination could be ignored, worse today social networks return these viral acts. This inevitably harms the reputation of brands. Thus, brands must commit to true training, not only in the values ​​of their companies, but what those values ​​mean in daily work, whether they are in contact with the public or not. Only in this way can an appropriate crisis management strategy be carried out.