Anita Roddick: RIP

I was sad to hear about the death of Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.  She made huge efforts for trade justice, the environment and ethical consumerism and her company was the perfect model and a shining light for the cosmetic industry.

That said, I was surprised when she sold out to L’Oreal, a company not so ethically renowned in the make-up trade.  It did seem a touch contradictory that a person who had made so much progress and held such great beliefs in compassionate cosmetics would sell out to a company whose practises have always been in direct conflict with her own principles. 

L’Oreal did pledge to abide by the founding principles of The Body Shop and Anita justified the takeover by believing the company could be ethically cleansed from within.  Well although L’Oreal has been true to its word towards The Body Shop, for instance, recently it has pledged to source its palm oil from a sustainable plantation in Columbia, I think we’re still waiting for the L’Oreal family as a whole to commit to ethical policies.

Anyway, regardles of the fact that some people strongly feel that Anita *sold out* and I must admit to feeling a touch miffed about it myself, it remains that she absolutely proved that it’s possible to become a huge multi-national and remain socially and environmentally compassionate.  Even if she did succumb to the $$ signs in the end.


5 responses to this post.

  1. The lady did good. It’s a business and she had to realise the value in it some day. Hopefully the ethics of the Body Shop rub off onto L’Oreal. At the very minimum they will expand the business format that Anita began, or simply sell it on to someone who will.


  2. Posted by Frances on September 11, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    She was a business woman – whatever she sold us, whether a feeling that we were doing good somewhere else somehow, she made an awful lot more money selling the stuff to us than anyone made making it. Why be surprised she sold off the business to the highest bidder? Normal business practice.


  3. Could it be that in the end what a person does and says is not the mirror of what that person really is. There are means to promote products, perhaps this lady found that promoting it the ethical way was best for her business.

    Rest in Peace.


  4. Sad…

    Yes, business is business. She did what she thought was best and that’s the way it goes sometimes. She was a very hardworking woman and that’s how I’ll remember her.



  5. Yes, she did good Matt. She proved that it’s possible to have ethical consumerism. And as you said, she hoped that her business values would spread . . . that they would “rub off” on L’Oreal who, as one of the worst companies for unethical policy, desperately needed/needs some lessons. L’Oreal doesn’t seem to have compromised The Body Shop values so far but it has yet to ethically cleanse the rest of the company.
    Hi Frances, yes, good point. But she was also a maverick. She swam against the tide to help bring about the betterment of humanity, most definitely.
    Jose, her contributions to social trade justice – without the exploitation of animals and while being as environmentally aware as possible are achievments she should be immensely proud of. Achievements that other companies in the industry should aspire to.
    MissyL, yes, very sad.


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