CASSI PITTMAN TAYLOR Da Shaunae Marisa for Business Insider

Da Shaunae Marisa

Cassi Pittman Claytor

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University

In 2019, Sephora shut down its stores for an hour to educate employees about racial bias. The beauty retailer commissioned Cassi Pittman Claytor, an assistant professor of sociology at Case Western Reserve University, to present research on how racism plays out in retail.

Together with a fellow academic, David Crockett, Pittman Claytor created a model that demonstrates how racism interferes in each part of the customer journey, from the moment a consumer realizes they have a need to the moment they make that purchase.

Pittman Claytor referenced common Black retail experiences, like the feeling that they are being watched closely by store associates, or not being greeted by employees when they enter a store.

“My role was helping to centralize the consumer experience and identify pain points,” Pittman Claytor says, adding that the research team is now identifying “strategic steps that Sephora, as well as other retailers, could implement to reduce the likelihood that racial bias would be triggered in an interaction in a store.”

The research team is analyzing results from a national survey of Black consumers and retail workers to propose next steps driven by data.

Her book, “Black Privilege,” about the experience of middle class Black Americans, is due out in September.