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Sephora Hong Kong has announced training for all its staff on unconscious bias and inclusivity. Photo: Reuters

Sephora Hong Kong announces training on unconscious bias and inclusivity for all staff by end of August, is ‘sorry to hear’ about alleged racist behaviour

  • The beauty chain has announced it is planning to train all its Hong Kong staff about unconscious bias and inclusivity; this is to be completed by August 31
  • The move comes a day after the Post reported that a Sephora VIP customer of Pakistani descent had alleged racial profiling by staff at one of its stores

Following an alleged episode of racial profiling at a Sephora store in Hong Kong that sparked a social media frenzy and calls for a boycott of the retailer, the LVMH-owned beauty chain has announced that it is planning to train all its Hong Kong staff members about unconscious bias and inclusivity. The training will be completed by August 31.

As previously reported in the Post, a woman of Pakistani descent said that, upon leaving a Sephora Hong Kong store, a sales assistant followed her out and went through her bag without explanation. After she complained and police became involved, she says the incident was dismissed as a “misunderstanding”.

‘Super rude and racist’: Sephora Hong Kong accused of racial profiling

She then started an Instagram account named @bansephorahk, calling for a boycott of the brand.

In a follow-up phone conversation with the Instagram user, who wished to stay anonymous, she revealed that she is a Sephora gold member – meaning she has spent more than HK$7,500 (US$960) at the store within a year – and that the experience was extremely traumatising.

She described the shame and embarrassment she and her family felt after being unfairly called out for stealing, and went on to say that many of her friends also had similar experiences at Sephora in Hong Kong, which is why she decided to start this Instagram account and to call for a boycott of the company.

“We have been informed of an incident at our K11 store and in addition to reaching out to the customer directly, we are gathering more information to take the proper next steps,” representatives from Sephora Hong Kong said in a statement.

Sephora has been accused of racially profiling customers in Hong Kong. Photo: Shutterstock

“We are sorry to hear about this unpleasant experience. We have been proactively getting in touch with the customer for further understanding and to offer appropriate support. We are at her entire disposal.”

The statement said: “Training about unconscious bias and inclusivity is constantly under way, and by the end of August 31, 2021, all our Hong Kong staff members will have been trained. We are looking into the matter very seriously and we will take all necessary measures, including reinforcing these programmes.”