Beyond Beauty: How Sephora is Embracing Emotional Inclusion and Leading Change

Beyond Beauty: How Sephora is Embracing Emotional Inclusion and Leading Change

Q&A with Sephora’s Chief Purpose Officer, Deborah Yeh

Today’s fast-paced and dynamic business world calls for the need of active workplace wellness practices Sephora’s Global Chief Purpose Officer, Deborah Yeh, shares with Emotional Inclusion Founder, Mollie Jean De Dieu, the power of emotional inclusion in the workplace and an organisation’s role in creating a thriving positive environment for employees.


What does Emotional Inclusion mean to you?

As I have shared in a recent podcast, emotional inclusion goes beyond acknowledging diversity. It encompasses valuing and respecting each person’s emotions, feelings, and concerns. This creates a sense of belonging rooted in psychological safety and acceptance, leading to genuine connections and stronger bonds. 

Sephora’s vision goes beyond just making our employees happy. Focussing on Purpose offers a two-fold benefit. It drives conversations about the need the company addresses in the community, i.e., its reason for existence. Secondly, defining personal purpose through clarity of one’s passions and values can create tremendous meaning for an individual employee. 

We are at the beginning of our journey, but initial results have shown that the company’s purpose-driven initiatives are significantly improving employee engagement and customer retention. 


What are some of the challenges of building Emotional Inclusivity in retail? 

The retail industry is known for its relentless pace. This daily grind can lead to high stress and burnout, leaving little room for employees to effectively process emotional difficulties. However, this dynamic environment also provides opportunities for innovation. 

I believe the key to navigating this balance is flexibility and empathy. It’s about understanding that everyone is going at their own pace and giving them the tools and support they need to handle it.

Sephora has found success by creating a supportive environment, focusing on the individual, acknowledging the challenges, and always striving to do better.


What makes an Emotionally Inclusive leader?

I think that emotionally-inclusive leaders are marked by their sense of curiosity and empathy. They show genuine interest in understanding their team members’ experiences and emotions through active listening. 

Conversations need to go beyond business to understand an individual’s background, aspirations, and challenges. This can help a leader create new pathways that encourage and enable others to succeed through caring, empathy, support, and motivation. 

These are the traits I consider essential for building stronger connections within the team and creating a culture of inclusivity.


What does Emotional Inclusion look like in practice?

At Sephora, it is an ongoing effort. Everyone, from leaders to early career professionals, is encouraged to voice their thoughts and express their emotions. The company offers resources for mental health counsel, spaces for open conversation, and initiatives to learn and grow.

But perhaps the most critical part is the understanding that it is a never-ending journey. There is always room for growth, for improvement, for learning. And with every step forward, we are creating a more positive, inclusive, and empowering workplace for everyone involved.


The importance of Allyship & Advocacy

Building allyship is crucial, every individual in the company has a part to play, no matter their roles or designations. By acting as allies and advocates for each other, individuals can significantly impact the organisation’s culture. 

Maintaining Workplace Wellness

Workplace wellness begins by understanding that the power lies within every individual in creating a positive and thriving workplace. Emotional challenges are real and by creating an open space for honest conversations, employees at every stage feel empowered to engage and succeed.  

As we continue to navigate the complexities of the ever-evolving world, let’s not forget the role we all can play in creating an environment of care and support. 

To delve deeper into Sephora’s journey and learn more from Deborah, check out the full podcast here.




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