The Body Shop Corporation was founded by Dame Anita Roddick, opening its first store in Brighton, England in 1976. Thirty four years later, the company since then has reached out and established global presence, with retail outlets in over 50 countries. The Body Shop has long been considered amongst the top fifty most ethical corporations in the entire world. The founder, Anita Roddick was a visionary, deeply committed to human rights and establishing ethical business practice. The company is built upon five core values. These values are stated as follows: Activate Self Esteem, Protect Our Planet, Against Animal Testing, Support Community Trade, and Defend Human Rights. These values are enlivened in every aspect of The Body Shop’s operations globally. The Body Shop as a company is one of the few that has taken the practice of corporate social responsibility (CSR) beyond merely making donations to various causes, to a more holistic form of corporate philanthropy. Ethical practice and responsibility is infused into the business model itself, ensuring that the company upholds its duties and obligations to its employees, its customers, its stakeholders, the environment and society at large.
The Body Shop’s Commitment to the Environment
The most distinctive aspect of The Body Shop’s value system is its commitment to environmental conservation and protection. By 1985 the Body Shop had entered into an alliance with Greenpeace to promote their global “Save the Whales” campaign (Roy & Ghosh, 2008). The Body Shop corporate websites states “As a global business, we strongly feel the need to be proactive in the battle against climate change. “ Their environmental strategy involves changing those aspects of their operations that directly affect the environment to reduce negative impact, and to undertake practices that offset negative impacts that cannot be avoided through appropriate management systems, stakeholder engagement and industry collaboration (The Body Shop Environmental Principles ). Their CSR commitments include supporting environmentally responsible materials and technologies by using renewable resources, using natural ingredients that have been harvested through environmentally sustainable practice, minimizing waste resources by using recycled materials, minimizing their contribution towards climate change by improving their energy efficiency and offsetting carbon emissions. The company has set the challenging goal of being completely carbon neutral by 2010 (The Body Shop Environmental Principles ). They constantly review the chemicals that are used in the making of their products to ensure that any ingredients that are flagged as harmful or dangerous can be phased out when concerns are raised by credible sources. They use recycled materials to make their packaging, and aim to use biodegradable materials as much as possible. The Body Shop, fuelled by Anita Roddick’s vision, has also lobbied aggressively for campaigns calling for the conservation of various ecological habitats, such those of the Ogoni people in Nigeria (Roy & Ghosh, 2008). Furthermore, the company has a very strict policy against animal testing. The company came to embody the fight against animal testing, so much so that when the company was sold to L’oreal in 2005, there was a great deal of protest as activists feared that The Body Shop would sully itself by being affiliated with a company that did in fact indulge in animal testing, regardless of whether it was “within acceptable limits”, as claimed in the defense statement that L’oreal issued in response to this claim. The company also aims at using 100% organically produced materials whenever possible, to reduce the use of pesticides and other harmful substances in the cultivation and preservation of their raw materials. They offer a Community Trade Bag for Life made from purely organic cotton, and are raise the recycled (as well as recyclable) content in their packaging..
The Body Shop’s Commitment to Society
The Body Shop has long been committed to fighting for human rights. Their value, Defend Human Rights is based on the credo “There’s something more alarming than HIV, Domestic Violence and Exploitation: Ignoring them”. The company sets it upon itself to act as a champion for those who cannot fight for themselves, and have spoken out against injustices all over the world. This is most noticeably evident in the company’s practice of using only those ingredients that have been sourced through the Fair Trade Agreement. In 1990 the company created The Body Shop Foundation. The Foundation’s aim was to raise funds for small, grass root level organizations that worked in fighting for human rights and ecological protection. The company is also actively engaged in promoting community-based development projects, an increasingly popular form of development assistance being adopted by various companies (Nelgadde, 2010). Campaigns to bring about positive social change are also enthusiastically adopted. The most recent of these is the Stop Violence in the Home Campaign which was launched in 2008. The campaign aimed to boost women’s empowerment and to provide support, inspiration and awareness for women across the world in the hope of giving them the courage to stand up and fight back against abuse. The Stop Violence in the Home campaign was able to raise 1.9 million pounds, all of which was donated to select non-profit charity organizations to help fund protection and support efforts for women and children alike (Nelgadde, 2010). Other campaigns sponsored by the Body Shop have centered around raising awareness about AIDS and HIV in rural communities around the world that are at risk of this disease, as well as fighting against the practice of human trafficking. The company is committed to integrating human rights standards in their business practices, sharing best practices and collaborating with other companies, and campaign on human rights issues that affect their stakeholders (Human Rights Principles: The Body Shop ). The company makes a point of evaluating all suppliers in regard to the labor practices they employ in the provision of various materials, even at the plantation level. Suppliers also have to sign up to The Body Shop Code of Conduct, which is in line with best practice and international labor standards. For example, The Body Shop’s peppermint intensive foot rescue product is manufactured by a factory which is audited to ensure Ethical Trade compliance. In 1987, The Body Shop launched Community Trade, with the credo “We don’t think greed, dishonesty or exploitation make your skin any smoother” (The Body Shop USA ). The Community Trade is an initiative that directly governs the supply chain management practices that are adopted by the company. Community Trade dictates the purchase of natural ingredients and accessories from socially or economically marginalized communities around the world (Nelgadde, 2010). The program targets small producer communities around the world, such rural cocoa farms in Brazil, that do not have bargaining power or even direct access to big markets. By doing business with them the Body Shop acts as a conduit that gives these potentially marginalized producers a chance to deal with a bigger, more lucrative market. The company ensures that fair prices are set so that the producers receive adequate and reliable income (The Body Shop: The Evolution of Business in Society). It also creates employment opportunities that are critical to the development efforts of these poor rural communities. The company’s definition of Fair Trade is based on three factors: Income – fair pay for work in fair conditions; Community – an enduring interest in development of the community, and Predictability – a long term, predictable supply relationship (Living Our Values: The Body Shop International Values Report , 2009). The commitment to fair trend extends to guaranteeing fair pricing. According the Values Report 2009, in 2008 the company put extra effort into pricing so as to counter the effects of inflationary pressures that arose from the global financial crisis. The purpose was to ensure that the primary producers wire still getting a fair deal.
The Body Shop’s Commitment to Customers
The Body Shop’s prime consumer market is women of all age, nationalities, shapes and sizes. The Body Shop philosophy is that beauty is indeed skin deep. Unlike other cosmetic and beauty companies around the world, the Body Shop’s marketing tactics do not aim at attacking a woman’s self esteem and using insecurity as a manipulation tactic to stimulate purchase. Instead, a core value of The Body Shop is Activate Self Esteem, with the credo “What is the soul of beauty? Beauty is a feeling, a natural way of being, where character, self esteem and humor are freely expressed and celebrated”. The company aims to boost self esteem of women everywhere by upholding the belief that all people, men and women alike, are inherently beautiful. What is really needed to bring that beauty to the limelight is confidence and belief in one’s self. This confidence can be brought out by adding a great smelling fragrance, getting an extra lift of your complexion with a touch of brightening makeup, healthier skin etc. The core idea is to take your existing assets and enhance them so that you can be as beautiful as you really are. The Body Shop is “not in the business of selling unattainable dreams and guaranteeing miraculous results” (The Body Shop: The Evolution of Business in Society). As a company that influences trends in the beauty industry, the Body Shop is committed to changing the very definition of beauty that their customers adhere to. That is why the company takes care to ensure that no models are used in the external marketing efforts that are either very thin or very young. They wish to create and enliven the idea of truly natural beauty.Their products are geared to all ages, ethnicities and skin colors. They have a special line of hair and skin care products that use Jojoba Oil, a highly moisturizing agent that is strongly recommended for women of African origin. Another line is geared specifically at older women that need products that are gentle yet effective in restoring youthfulness to the skin. The company also ensures that all its products are non-comodeogenic and are dermatologically tested so that customers can use them without fear of allergic reactions. Their strict policy against animal testing ensures that customers can use their beauty products without guilt.
In 1998, the company published the first issue of the “Full Voice” series, titled “The Body and Self Esteem”. This publication aimed at raising awareness around the issue of self esteem (The Body Shop: The Evolution of Business in Society). They are committed to creating marketing messages which celebrate diversity and emphasize wellbeing and comfort, and creating positive messages on women’s rights. (The Body Shop Self Esteem Principles )
The Body Shop’s Commitment to Employees
The Body Shop’s core value of Activate Self Esteem includes their customers, as well as their employees. The company’s Self Esteem Principles make a commitment to their employees by promising to promote diversity in employment practices by establishing global equal opportunities standards, enabling persona development through volunteering, training and personal development plans. Employees are encouraged to gain new skills by participating in the Learning is of Value to Everyone (LOVE) Initiative. The employee and staff’s general state of well being is of great concern, and is maintained and enhanced through a variety of training courses, health treatments and more. Employees are also encouraged to participate in the company’s various campaigns through a global volunteering policy. Under the policy, all employees are entitled to a minimum of three paid volunteering days a year. By doing the good, the company hopes that their employees can feel good, and that this positive experience feeds in to their work and commitment to the company’s mission and values, in turn producing great performance. The Body Shop Singapore has hired 8 HIV positive employees, which is a great leap in Singaporean society as the disease is surrounded by a high degree of stigma. This step is an example of the open, fair recruiting practices that the company chooses to uphold. Employees are selected and shortlisted for being exposed to Ethical Trade trainings so as to increase understanding of the issues and constraints behind ethical trade, and how the company can strive towards achieving continuous improvement of working conditions. This helps promote employee involvement and understanding of the business and the role that their contributions plays in making the core vision a reality (Living Our Values: The Body Shop International Values Report , 2009).
The Body Shop’s Commitment to Stakeholders
The company’s mission statement requires that the Body Shop operations balance economic, social and environmental needs. In a commitment to increased transparency and accountability, the company issued a Values Report in 2007, which was reviewed by an independent panel of various stakeholders. This panel comprised of representatives from affiliated non-governmental organizations (NGOs), suppliers, franchisors and employees. The main aim of creating this stakeholder panel was to have an independent, third party body that entrusted with the task of reviewing the company’s performance against various targets and objectives., such as the goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2010. The company also regularly surveys its customers, members of NGOs and academia, store staff and external experts for suggestions and feedback on the company’s performance and areas of improvement. This practice of auditing, external verification and due diligence is a mark of the company’s commitment to being honest and straightforward in their operations and providing as much information to their stakeholders as possible.
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