How Sephora Strengthens the Power of BIPOC-Owned Businesses

Corporate Social Impact | Corporation | Donor Advised Fund

Large group of employees from Sephora with red balloons and a pride flag that has the word Sephora on it

Global beauty retailer Sephora partnered with Tides to develop investing and grantmaking strategies to combat racial bias in retail, with a goal of supporting BIPOC-owned businesses and nonprofits. 


Black retail shoppers are 2.5 times more likely than white shoppers to experience unfair treatment based on their skin color. Seeing the discrimination shoppers of color face, Sephora committed to making sure all its customers feel welcomed, are treated with respect, and are provided with exceptional and culturally appropriate service. That starts with understanding the diverse needs of their consumers, which is why Sephora supports the success of  Black, Indigenous, and people of color-owned businesses

Since its US debut in 1998, Sephora’s activism has led to groundbreaking research on racial bias in retail and the launch of its Accelerate program to support BIPOC beauty brands. To further its progress, Sephora sought to:

  • Create an invested fund with a partner that shared its commitment to racial justice
  • Deepen its relationship with charitable partners through new or existing programs
  • Broaden its diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts beyond research

Tides Solution: Invested Donor Advised Fund

In 2018, Sephora established a donor advised fund with Tides. Though its grants totaled $6 million per year by 2021, the company knew it could push its corporate social impact even further. To do that, Sephora worked with Tides to: 

  • Create a secondary invested donor advised fund to mobilize an additional $3 million in grants annually
  • Leverage the new fund to maximize social impact through narrative storytelling that  deepened relationships with existing partners
  • Partner on a consumer activation strategy to engage buyers in the brand’s giving
  • Connect with mission-aligned grantees through the Tides network and its nonprofit expertise 
  • Evaluate and advise on philanthropic opportunities to further Sephora’s mission of supporting BIPOC beauty brands and create positive social impact
  • Support the Tides’ Stronger Together Fund, a pooled fund that provides grants for our fiscally sponsored partners


Sephora’s commitment to racial justice and corporate social activism exemplifies how inclusion is not only an imperative for advancing justice, but also key to building a reputation that resonates with employees, customers, and shareholders. 

Centering Impacted Communities is Key to Lasting Change. 

Over the last 20+ years, Sephora has consistently centered community leadership while awarding millions of dollars to organizations that align with the retailer’s mission. With grantmaking support from Tides, Sephora used tools like unrestricted grants to successfully strengthen the power and leadership of BIPOC-led organizations. 

Storytelling is an Essential Tool for Driving Momentum 

Sephora grants millions of dollars each year, but sparking industry-wide change beyond individual grantees requires effective movements and storytelling. Tides consulted with Sephora to maximize its social impact through movement building and narrative storytelling. That work included leading co-design sessions with charitable partners to identify opportunities for collaboration among them and to more effectively communicate the impact of funding.  

Partnership Enriches an Already Impactful Program

Sephora is well-known for its social justice and racial equity funding, yet working with Tides expanded its broader corporate social impact, including its practices and processes. We were instrumental in strengthening Sephora’s grantmaking strategy by identifying opportunities for charitable partnership improvements, with the goal of being a less burdensome funder. With small adjustments Sephora is able to maximize grantee engagement and charity programming now and in the years to come.