At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year, many of us were stunned to hear that Sephora, one of the largest and most popular beauty retailers in the US, unceremoniously laid off more than 3,000 employees. However, it wasn’t the act of laying off the employees that was shocking (many other retailers had done the same and, with so many stores closing during this period, many anticipated that layoffs and furloughs would happen). What was distasteful about the action was how it was done: Sephora released the employees during a conference call, and were provided less than one hour’s notice before the call occurred.
This mass layoff created some bad PR for Sephora, and I wondered if the company could redeem itself. After all, many businesses are finding that dominating in a particular industry does not make them immune to criticism from and rejection by previously loyal customers. Brand loyalty is a fickle animal and any missteps could result in major losses over the long term.
Only time will tell whether Sephora will redeem itself from this PR nightmare. The company has a history of supporting various social causes and has a culture that encourages inclusion and acceptance of all people. So perhaps the established goodwill of the company can help it ride the wave of criticism related to this mass layoff. I’ll keep any eye on things over on their Sephora Stands website and see what happens. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!