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Will Sephora’s One-Hour Diversity Training Pay Off?

Organizations need to continually reinforce the idea of an anti-harassment workplace culture.
By: | June 5, 2019 • 2 min read
diversity training

Will an hour of training make a difference when it comes to decades of discrimination?

Sephora, a nationwide beauty-products supplier dealing with accusations of racial profiling, will soon find out.
The company says it will close all of its stores today so its 16,000 employees across the country can undergo diversity-training workshops. The company decided on the training after singer SZA said she was recently profiled at one of the chain’s California stores.

According to a CBS News report, SZA tweeted in April that while she was shopping at the cosmetics store, security was called on her to make sure she wasn’t stealing. “We had a long talk,” the singer wrote in her tweet.

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The next day, Sephora replied to SZA, who has 2.7 million Twitter followers: “Hi, SZA. We’re sorry to hear about your experience at our Calabasas store and appreciate you bringing this to our attention,” the company tweeted. “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.”

But will one hour of training really solve the company’s issues?

John Arendes, vice president and general manager of global compliance solutions at Skillsoft, says that it’s great to see organizations putting a corporate-wide focus to preventing harassment in the workplace.

“It certainly sends a message when an organization will shut down its business to ensure employees understand the importance of the subject,” he says.

But, Arendes adds, organizations need to continually follow up and reinforce the idea of an anti-harassment workplace culture through continuous learning.

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That ongoing experience, he says, should extend beyond harassment “to look at how we train our leaders to address the topics of diversity, inclusion and anti-harassment.”

Often, he says, the most impactful methods of delivering this type of training is scenario-based videos that feature compelling drama and pragmatic storytelling so employees can tie the learning to on-the-job leadership behaviors.

“I’ve come to say many times that a failure in compliance is a failure in leadership,” Arendes says. “As leaders, we need to continuously help our employees understand how important each of us is and how valuable we are in and outside the workplace.”

Web Editor Michael J. O’Brien has been with HRE for more than a decade and holds a degree in economics from Boston College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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