Sephora to close its stores on June 5 for diversity training after SZA says she was profiled

The announcement follows a claim recently made by R&B singer SZA who said she was racially profiled while shopping at a Sephora store in California.
Image: The Sephora flagship store in Paris on Sept. 28, 2013.
The Sephora flagship store in Paris on Sept. 28, 2013.Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP / Getty Images file

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Janelle Griffith

Sephora will close more than 400 stores in the United States on the morning of June 5 to host inclusion workshops for its employees, according to a statement posted on the company's website.

The announcement follows a claim recently made by R&B singer SZA, who said she was racially profiled while shopping at a Sephora store in California.

The cosmetics retailer, however, said the workshops were planned well before the incident involving SZA and are part of its new brand platform and tagline, “We Belong to Something Beautiful.”

"While it is true that SZA’s experience occurred prior to the launch of the 'We Belong to Something Beautiful' campaign, the campaign was not the result of this Tweet," Sephora told NBC News in a statement.

Sephora said it "believes in championing all beauty," "building a community where diversity is expected" and "all are welcomed."

The Morning Rundown

Get a head start on the morning's top stories.

The training will also include employees in Sephora’s distribution centers and corporate offices, the company said.

On April 30, SZA said that she was shopping for Fenty Beauty products at a Calabasas store outside of Los Angeles when an employee, who she nicknamed "Sandy Sephora," called security to make sure she wasn't stealing.

"We had a long talk," SZA wrote in a tweet. "U have a blessed day Sandy."

Rihanna and SZAAFP; Getty Images

SZA, born Solána Rowe, starred in a Fenty Beauty lipstick campaign when Rihanna launched the line of inclusive cosmetics in 2017. The brand is sold at Sephora and Harvey Nichols stores.

Sephora apologized to the Grammy-nominated singer on Twitter a day after she made the complaint.

"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," Sephora said. "We want to let you know we take complaints like this very seriously and are actively working with our teams to address the situation immediately."

Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, recently sent a gift card and a handwritten note to SZA that read, "Go buy yo’ Fenty Beauty in peace sis! One love, Rihanna," which SZA shared on her Instagram Story.

Other retailers including Nike, Papa John’s and Starbucks instituted diversity training programs in the last year after allegations of wrongdoing.

Starbucks closed 8,000 stores across the country in May 2018 for an afternoon of anti-bias training after one of its managers at a Philadelphia Starbucks called police on two black men, prompting outrage. The two men were arrested after asking to use the restroom. An employee refused the request because they had not bought anything, police said.

Starbucks has changed its guest policy, allowing people to sit without buying anything.