Client Spotlight: Sephora Canada on What It Takes to Create A Winning Culture and Employer Brand

In this blog we are highlighting one of our clients, Sephora Canada, who was recently recognized by Forbes as one of Canada’s 2021 Best Employers and took home both Gold and Silver in the 2020 Canadian HR Awards for best Learning and Development Strategy and Best Canadian HR Team in the Retail space. This is an impressive feat in any employment and economic climate, but even more so in the midst of COVID-19. Not only do we want to celebrate the Sephora Canada team for their amazing achievements and their passion in supporting their 3,000+ employees during one of the toughest economic climates in recent history, we also want to share our perspective on what makes them so unique.

About Sephora Canada

You may already know about Sephora as a leader in the Beauty and Retail Space. They are a leader in global prestige retail, teaching and inspiring clients to play in a world of beauty. Owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury goods group, Sephora has earned its reputation as a beauty trailblazer with its expertise, innovation, and entrepreneurial spirit.

As an employer, they’re just as incredible, and it’s no surprise. “Our shared People aspiration at Sephora Canada is simple – Be a Great Place to Work, across our stores and corporate offices.” says Stephen Bobko, VP, People. How? In 2020 alone, Sephora Canada committed to further strengthening their Employee Value Proposition, innovating with their Leadership and development offering, furthering their social impact efforts in Canadian communities, and innovating in acquisition and employment branding initiatives. And when COVID hit, that didn’t stop them. “COVID-19 created an opportunity to lead through values and to Innovate. We fully embraced it, Sephora style!”, says Iliana Kortcheva, Senior Director, HR & Rewards.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of their amazing initiatives, in direct response to COVID-19:

  • Pivoted to digital learning in the span of weeks with Learning@home, to meet a business need to continue to build skills during confinement
  • Transitioned 100% of store leadership and corporate office to virtual work in less than a week
  • Launched a Together@home communications app within weeks of store and corporate closures to streamline communication, keeping 94% of their employee population actively engaged in such a challenging time
  • Piloted virtual medical care for the full organization including part time employees
  • Created weekly engagement calendars and newsletters for store and corporate teams

The Link Between Employer Brand and Workplace Culture

It’s not just what Sephora Canada did during this global pandemic, it’s also how they did it. “Focusing on culture creates memorable and shareable moments that are amplified through employer branding. In turn, branding further builds culture and employee experiences, and in turn connects people to the business.”, we heard from the Sephora Canada team. 

To prepare for the reopening of their corporate offices, they created a “There is Beauty in Reuniting” toolkit. To support their employees’ mental health and wellness as part of store reopening, they launched, “There is Beauty in Putting Yourself First,” a comprehensive mental health campaign. In these examples you can see how employer brand and culture can be beautifully aligned. To build a strong employer brand, Sephora Canada focused on enriching culture. And in order to enhance their culture, they focused just as much on communications and their employer brand. 

Advice for Fellow HR and Employment Branding Professionals

To further support the creation of learning cultures and amazing workplaces everywhere, we asked the Sephora Canada HR and Employer Brand team what advice they would share with fellow professionals looking to do just that. Here’s what they said:

  • Embrace transparency & authenticity. “Actively listen to understand your people: what drives & motivates them, and what needs to change.”
  • Empower your people to co-create and drive positive change. “Encourage them to keep leveraging their strengths. In challenging times, people want to know they are valued and they belong. Be purposeful in reinforcing this sense of belonging and keep inspiring, yourself and your people.”

For these reasons and many others, it’s clear that Sephora Canada is a special place to work. We can’t wait to see how they continue to evolve in 2021. 

About the Forbes Canada 2021 Best Employers list:

Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to compile their 2021 Best Employers list by surveying more than 8,000 Canadians working for businesses with at least 500 employees. Participants were asked to rate their willingness to recommend their own employers to friends and family, and to nominate organizations other than their own.

About the HR Awards and the Categories Sephora Canada was Nominated in:

The annual Canadian HR Awards (CHRAs) has been recognized as the leading independent awards program in the HR profession.  The awards showcase the HR teams, leaders and employers for their achievements, leadership and innovation for their outstanding achievements, best practices and leadership in the HR profession over the past 12 months.

GOLD Winner: Best Learning and Development Strategy – Sephora Canada

This award recognizes the team that has delivered the most outstanding organizational benefits by directly linking the training needs of their people to the business needs. 

SILVER Winner: Best Canadian HR Team of the Year in Retail/Hospitality – Sephora Canada

The retail and hospitality industries have unique needs when it comes to HR services. This award recognizes the most outstanding HR team of the year within retail or hospitality that has excelled within combating these unique challenges, using innovative means. 

This Blog was co-authored by Director, Employer Brand and Culture, Nicole Fernandes.

 

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