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Sephora shuts U.S. stores for diversity training after racial incident

Sephora shut down all its U.S. locations, distribution centers, and corporate offices for an hour Wednesday morning to conduct diversity training for employees, a move that follows a racial incident involving a Grammy-nominated singer SZA.

The R&B performer, who is black, said in April she was racially profiled at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California. SZA said in a post on a social media website Twitter that a Sephora employee she identified as “Sandy” called security to make sure the singer was not stealing from the store.

“All we want to do is shop and be, you know, respected like anybody else that walks in the store,” said “Tank and the Bangas lead singer “Tank” Ball.

“You know, this is messed up. And it’s cultural. Should they do this? Yes. Will it help? I don’t know.”

Sephora apologized to SZA in a tweet and emailed Reuters a statement saying that the diversity training had been in the works months before the incident.

New York resident Jeff Larson told Reuters he believes it will take more than one hour of training to overcome bias.

“I think that there is so much ingrained racism, whatever you want to call it,” Larson said. “People do not embrace diversity naturally. I think that would have to come from the culture itself. A single day teaching people is ok? No, it’s not going to change.”

But Katherine Herzer, also a New York area resident, said it’s a good start.

“I feel like, working in New York City, we are kind of the big example, because we are so diverse,” Herzer said. “So, if we cannot get it right and understand how to be inclusive and support all different types of people, then no one else is gonna get it right. So, it’s important that we have diversity training.”

Sephora’s workshops come about a year after Starbucks closed 8,000 stores across the country for anti-bias training after a Philadelphia cafe manager’s call to police resulted in the arrests of two black men who were waiting for a friend.

(Produced by Aleksandra Michalska and Andrew Hofstetter)

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