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Sephora’s Sweet Success Leaves a Sour Taste for Workers

Sephora, the leading prestige beauty retailer, has achieved a remarkable feat in 2023: it hit $10 billion in revenue in North America, setting new records for Black Friday sales, online traffic, and warehouse fulfillment. But while the company celebrated this milestone with a sweet treat for its employees, some of them were not impressed by the gesture and felt underappreciated for their hard work and dedication.

What did Sephora do to celebrate its revenue milestone?

According to a report by Business Insider, Sephora sent some of its stores a box of cookies with a label saying “We did it! $10 billion” and a card thanking the employees for making it the greatest year ever. The card also asked the employees to keep the note confidential and not to share it with anyone.

How did the employees react to the cookies?

Some of the employees who received the cookies were disappointed and unhappy with the company’s way of showing gratitude. They felt that the cookies were a cheap and stale token of appreciation that did not reflect their contribution to the company’s success. They also felt that the confidentiality request was insulting and unfair, as it implied that they should not voice their opinions or concerns about the company.

One former employee, whose last day coincided with the cookie delivery, told Business Insider:

“They are always coaching us to meet our goals and expectations, and, of course, everyone goes above and beyond for the company and all they give us is a stale cookie and a letter thanking us.”

Another employee said:

“It’s obvious they’re not listening to us. These are people who don’t know how this actually works and how important we are to the operation.”

Some employees also took to Reddit to vent their frustration and share their views on the cookies. One user posted a picture of the cookies with the title “What a joke” on the r/SephoraWorkers subreddit, which sparked a heated discussion among other users. Some of the comments were:

  • “Wow. That’s insulting.”
  • “I would have thrown them in the trash.”
  • “They could have at least given us a gift card or something.”
  • “This is why I quit Sephora. They don’t care about their employees at all.”

What does Sephora say about the cookies and the employees’ complaints?

In a statement to Business Insider, Sephora said that it was proud of all its employees across its stores, distribution centers, and corporate offices who contributed to the shared success in North America. The company also said that it offered highly competitive benefits and pay, performance bonuses, education, brand perks, training product, gratis, and substantial product discounts to its employees.

The company did not address the specific issue of the cookies or the employees’ dissatisfaction with them.

What are some of the challenges and issues that Sephora employees face?

Sephora employees have been vocal about some of the challenges and issues that they face working for the company, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these include:

  • Low wages and insufficient hours. Many employees have complained that they are paid minimum wage or slightly above, and that they do not get enough hours to make a decent living. Some employees have also reported that their hours were cut or their shifts were canceled without notice, leaving them with no income or security.
  • Lack of safety and protection. Some employees have expressed their concerns about the lack of safety and protection measures in the stores, such as masks, gloves, sanitizers, and social distancing. Some employees have also claimed that they were exposed to COVID-19 at work and that the company did not inform them or provide them with adequate support.
  • High pressure and unrealistic expectations. Some employees have said that they are constantly pressured to meet sales goals and quotas, and that they are evaluated based on metrics that are not fair or accurate. Some employees have also said that they are expected to perform multiple tasks and roles, such as cashier, stocker, cleaner, and makeup artist, without proper training or compensation.
  • Poor management and communication. Some employees have criticized the management and communication style of the company, saying that they are not transparent, respectful, or supportive. Some employees have also said that they are not listened to or valued, and that they are often ignored, dismissed, or retaliated against when they raise issues or complaints.

What are some of the possible solutions or alternatives for Sephora employees?

Sephora employees who are unhappy with their working conditions or the company’s treatment of them have some possible solutions or alternatives, such as:

  • Negotiating for better pay and benefits. Some employees have suggested that they should negotiate for better pay and benefits, such as higher wages, more hours, bonuses, commissions, tips, health insurance, and paid time off. Some employees have also suggested that they should unionize or form a collective bargaining unit to have more power and leverage in their negotiations.
  • Seeking legal action or assistance. Some employees have said that they should seek legal action or assistance if they feel that they are being exploited, discriminated, harassed, or mistreated by the company. Some employees have also said that they should report any violations or abuses to the relevant authorities, such as the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Finding another job or career. Some employees have said that they should find another job or career that pays better, offers more opportunities, and respects their rights and dignity. Some employees have also said that they should pursue their passions or interests, such as makeup artistry, cosmetology, or entrepreneurship, and create their own businesses or brands.


Sephora’s revenue milestone is a remarkable achievement that reflects the company’s popularity and success in the beauty industry. However, it also reveals the dissatisfaction and discontent of some of its employees, who feel that they are not appreciated or rewarded for their hard work and dedication. Sephora should listen to its employees and address their concerns and issues, as they are the ones who make the company’s success possible. Sephora should also recognize that its employees are not just workers, but also human beings, who deserve respect, dignity, and happiness.

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