Sephora, the beauty retail giant, recently achieved a significant financial milestone by reaching $10billion in revenue in North America for the fiscal year 2023.
However, the company faced unexpected backlash from its employees after an attempted gesture of appreciation for their contributions fell flat.
Following the unprecedented financial success, Sephora reportedly distributed packages containing individually wrapped cookies adorned with the company logo, accompanied by a note expressing appreciation for the hard work of its employees.
The company stated that it was “thrilled” that it reached $10billion in sales, claiming that “multiple Sephora records were shattered,” and it couldn’t be reached without “the dedication and efforts of all employees.”
However, whilst the company’s intention may have been to say thank you, many staff instead deemed the move to be underwhelming. “Ten BILLION...and they give us stale cookies,” wrote one unnamed staff member.
"They really don't reward us for the work and mental energy it takes to be a Sephora employee," said another anonymous worker. "There's just so much more they could do and they chose to send stale cookies."
Some employees also criticized Sephora for warning employees in the card to not share any information that was provided in it ‘externally’. "The content of this card is confidential and should not be shared externally as it is a violation of our company policies," read the card.
The backlash spilled onto social media platforms, with memes and scathing reviews emerging, depicting the cookie gesture as symbolic of tokenism rather than genuine appreciation.
The controversy prompted discussions around broader workplace issues, with some employees advocating for unionization as a means to address concerns related to workplace morale and corporate culture.
With responses to the various threads around the controversy gaining thousands of views, Sephora did choose to respond, via an article published on The Street.
The company once again noted that it is “thankful” for its employees and that the company offers "competitive benefits and pay”.
"As the leading prestige beauty retailer, it’s success like this that allows us to continue to offer highly competitive benefits and pay, performance bonuses, education, brand perks, training product, gratis, and substantial product discounts to our employees," wrote Sephora.
According to a recent estimate from Glassdoor, the pay range of a sales associate at Sephora in the United States is between $14 to $19 an hour, with an average median hourly wage of $16.