|Late Dame Anita Roddick OBE|
Dame Anita Roddick, founder of Body Shop, environmental and human rights campaigner, entrepreneur, died on September 10th after a severe brain haemorrhage, aged 64. Ms Roddick was also an EMMA patron, giving us her support and acknowledging the value of our project since 1997.
The news of her sudden death circulated among national and international media channels, and was met with great shock and sorrow across all sectors of society, for Dame Anita Roddick was truly an exceptional individual.
Ms Roddick has been a model entrepreneur who managed to achieve personal and financial success without abandoning her moral principles; she combined a sharp business acumen with deeply felt ethical beliefs. In order to support herself and her two daughters she set up the Body Shop in 1976, thanks to “a series of fortunate accidents”, as she used to say with characteristic modesty and humour: the company’s value has been growing steadily since then, and, by 2004, the chain had more than 77 million customers across 50 different countries and was the second most trusted brand in the UK.
The vision behind the Body Shop was stated clearly in the mission statement:
“To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change. We use our stores and our products to help communicate human rights and environmental issues.”
Roddick, with pioneering vision, largely anticipated the role and importance of ethical, socially responsible practices in business: she was the first to speak against animal testing on cosmetics and to translate her ideals into a hugely successful enterprise.
Dame Roddick succeeded in rendering the idea of ethical business and fair trade popular and accessible, cutting through the health and beauty mainstream market with innovative, quality products.
Her invaluable contribution to the UK’s economy was acknowledged in 2003, when the Queen appointed Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and she was officially styled Dame Anita Roddick DBE.
Campaigning for environmental and human rights has always been an integral part of her business philosophy. Roddick always dismissed the idea of retiring; instead she continued to campaign tirelessly against environmental and social wrongs around the world.
Dame Roddick started her last major campaign in February 2007, when she revealed that she was suffering from liver damage after contracting the Hepatitis C virus more than 35 years ago. She called for the health authorities to provide more information for the public on such a debilitating disease.
Dame Anita Roddick proved that the combination of business sense and ethical standards is a successful one; she also proved that a woman can achieve outstanding results without having to sacrifice her family or her ethical beliefs. Dame Roddick remains a powerful inspiring figure for all the people who work and believe in EMMA: she showed her support at a time when EMMA was still only an idea, and this fact alone testifies of her thorough commitment to the principles of social justice and ethical practice.
Bobby Syed, CEO and founder of EMMA, commented: “It is not only a sad loss for her family and all who loved her and respected her at EMMA, but ultimately a great loss to humanity as a whole for the stance she took and the work she did. We at EMMA will continue to make this multicultural project a success as a legacy to her kindness and support since 1997."
Anita Roddick was born in Littlehampton, Sussex, in 1942. She has said that as a child she was an outsider, and she “had a strong sense of moral outrage” that was awakened when she found a book about the Holocaust at the age of ten.
Having spent time in farming and fishing communities with pre-industrial peoples, and been exposed to body rituals of women from all over the world, the foundation of The Body Shop's environmental activism was born out of ideas like the “make do and mend” attitude of World War II of which her mother was a fervent believer.
Roddick believes that businesses have the power to do good. The Body Shop's Mission Statement opens with the overriding commitment: “To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change. We use our stores and our products to help communicate human rights and environmental issues.”
“In 1993, I met a delegation of Ogoni people from Nigeria. They were seeking justice and reparations against the giant oil multinational Shell that was ravaging their lands through oil exploration and production.” Working with other NGOs, Roddick and The Body Shop turned their campaign into an international cause.
After four years of unrelenting pressure, Shell issued a revised operating charter committing the company to human rights and sustainable development. A year later, they launched their ‘Profits and Principles’ advertising campaign declaring their recognition of the interests of “a much wider group of stakeholders in our business.”
“I like to think we had a hand in getting Shell to think about what it really means to be a corporate citizen” states Roddick.
In September 2001, The Body Shop joined forces with Greenpeace in an international campaign against Exxon-Mobil (Esso), the world's largest oil and gas company, and, in her words, the “Number One Global Warming Villain.”
The Body Shop has endeavored to make fair or community trade relationships more mainstream. Forty-two such projects exist in twenty-six countries, and Roddick aims to develop more.
“The most exciting part of my life is now – I believe the older you get, the more radical you become. There's a Dorothy Sayers quote I love: ‘A woman in advancing old age is unstoppable by any earthly force.’
In November 1999, I flew to Seattle to speak out against the role of the World Trade Organisation and witnessed the ‘Battle of Seattle’. I'm fascinated by the publishing industry. In 2000, I published my autobiography, Business and Unusual, and in 2001, I edited Take It Personally, a collection of thought-provoking pieces to challenge the myths of globalisation and the power of the WTO.”
Roddick has since started her own communications company called Anita Roddick Publications. “I like to say we manufacture ‘weapons of mass instruction’. We are experimenting with various forms and mediums to celebrate and advance the same things I've always cared about: human rights, the environment, and creative dissent.”
Though Roddick no longer sits on executive committees, she spends most of her time on The Body Shop business by sourcing new products during world travels, working as part of the creative team and spearheading environmental and humanitarian campaigns.
With The Body Shop and her massive communications company, Anita Roddick continued to fight for human-rights until her untimely death in 2007, her legacy continues.
Values+and+Campaigns/ - The Body Shop, Official Website
http://www.anitaroddick.com/ - Dame Anita Roddick blog site, Anita Roddick.com
reviews/roddick.htm - Anita Roddick travel article, American Pictures
anita_roddick.shtml - Anita Roddick interview, BBC
http://www.time.com/time/europe/hero2004/roddick.html - Anita Roddick article, Time Europe