Anita Roddick was born in 1942 in Littlehampton, England.
She completed her schooling life and went on to be trained as a teacher. She travelled the globe, working
for the United Nations where she learnt in detail the global inhumane political issues that were going on.
Returning to England, Anita met her future husband by the name of ‘Gordon Roddick’, who she married
in 1970. The couple had two children and opened various business ventures such as a restaurant and a hotel.
In 1976 Anita Roddick opened a small cosmetics shop in Brighton, England. For the prime reason of having
an income for herself and her two daughters – while her husband was travelling America.
From the time of the first store’s opening, she was seen to display unusual but very original ways
to attract customers; such as spraying body scents on the walkway, which lead to her shop to attract customers into her store.
She reunited with her husband in England; and went on to open a second Body Shop franchise only 6 months
after the first had been opened. The original product line included 15 lines, which has now grown to a range of over 300 lines.
Anita, never attending business school or College was oblivious to generic business regulations. She is known
to be a self- proclaimed risk taker. Common leadership values include having the courage to take risks and have the creativity
to try new things. Anita used her ‘gut- instincts’ to create her own way of operating her business.
Through investigating the various elements and examples of Anita Roddick’s practices, the common leadership
traits that she possesses are clearly identified.
Throughout this report a holistic approach will determine Roddick’s strengths and weaknesses while
also conveying the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility, giving examples where she clearly demonstrates this quality as
well as times
where the legitimacy of this responsibility seems to be questionable.
Through the progression of establishing the many Body Shop franchises, a mission statement was set. ‘To
dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change’ (The Body Shop mission statement) The Body
Shop products were based on natural substances and were against animal testing.
Products had limited packaging and with Anita leading the company, it became publicly obvious that the company
aimed at supporting social humanistic, world trade and political and environmental causes.
These organisational objectives commonly appeal to humans – leading to co-operation of the belief without
a force. This is also a trait of being a leader, having followers and supporters of The Body Shop products as well as supporters
(followers) of the protests, participating by free will and in 1991 when there was 700 Body Shop franchises; Anita was presented
with the World Vision Award for Development Initiative Award.
Anita Roddick displayed many common leadership qualities including creativity, courage and the most surprising
of all for a businesswoman – unselfishness.
It is with these traits and the objective of helping human kind that Roddick was able to be successful during
her time leading The Body Shop organization, in that she provided quality products that consumers do not mind paying more
than the average price for.
‘The Body Shop’ brand name is associated with good will and a contribution to parties which would
otherwise be neglected – such as promoting ‘trade not aid’ with third world countries who can provide natural
raw products and take part in global trade.
Creativity and exploring innovation is not only key to a successful business but it is also a feature of
being a good leader.
For example "the fact that she explicitly encourages innovation in her organisation is again a reflection
of how she values her own creativity. After all, it was her own creative energy which came up with The Body Shop concept and
turned it into a reality". (Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Leader? Pg 7, 1994)
The above example illustrates that Roddick was supportive and encouraging to be innovative and creative.
When a leader holds these qualities, employees and followers are kept interested in the ‘cause’. When new ideas
are not nurtured and are constantly neglected – followers loose interest and no longer feel inspired and guided –
two qualities which are commonly required by leaders.
Creativity, exhibited on many occasions by Roddick through her product designs and unique methods of operating
business is a prominent leadership quality. For example "The nature of creativity is not coming up with the ‘right’
answer but rather coming up with a number of alternative answers, or different ways of approaching the particular problem."
Followers respect the fact that leaders are often able to invent new alternative ways of dealing with situations.
It is common to believe that people prefer to follow an ‘underdog’ or someone who has worked
their way up to a position. It is easier to hold respect to someone who has not been born into his or her position and therefore
occupy the position due to hard work and having the courage to take risks, into obtaining goals.
Anita Roddick displays the attribute of unselfishness through her world trade work and fighting for many
other politically oppressing causes, this was also obvious to profits driven competitors. For example; "she was an inspiration
to many entrepreneurs including myself, but ran a ‘guerrilla’ company.
Explaining this, Mr Carlucci says ‘she was more interested in the cause (of ethical consumerism) while
we are more interested in cosmetics’ (Mr Alessandro Carlucci, director of Natura Cosmetics, Brazil).
Anita Roddick, as a business operator and as a leader, sets herself aside from competitors like the one discussed
above, through voicing her opinions.
For example: "Leaders of companies, according to Roddick, have a responsibility to make their company profitable,
but not at the expense of human right abuses, the environment, or preventing employees from having a sense of pride in what
they do." (Body Shop International" an exploration of corporate social responsibility pg 649).
This quote illustrates how Anita Roddick exhibited a good understand of corporate social responsibility.
Anita’s cultural values are a reflection of her Italian background, being taught early in life to preserve
resources and recycle whenever possible. It is this original environment that shaped many of her values, which later developed
her many leadership qualities.
In contrast there are many elements which have been investigated that ‘unmask’ Anita Roddick
as a saintly businesswoman.
To some critics she will forever be the earthy Hippy turned left wing political campaigning to include ethics
for the modern woman.
It has been argued that Anita’s ‘fight for rights’ and other strong beliefs are simply
a marketing scheme to enable consumers to buy items which bear a financial donation to third world countries; in turn giving
consumers a guilt free conscious in buying retail goods.
It is therefore questioned; Anita Roddick’s ability to be socially responsible and ethical in the business
After all Anita sold The Body Shop to France’s L’Oreal for 652 million pounds.
In contrast, to The Body Shop, L’Oreal has been the centre of inhumane scandals – such as testing
cosmetics on animals.
Further investigations into this issue, Roddick has reasoned her actions to selling the organisation. For
"She sees herself as a kind of "Trojan horse" who by selling her business to a huge firm will be able to
influence the decisions it makes. Suppliers who had formerly worked with the Body Shop will in future have contracts with
L’Oreal, and working with the company 25 days a year Roddick will be able to have an input into decisions." (www.myhero.com.au)
The above quote explains the reasoning behind the move to sell The Body Shop to L’Oreal. After 30 years of leading
The Body Shop organisation, it has been reported that Anita sold the business to concentrate on the Anita Roddick Foundation.
The foundation is used to promote political oppressing issues and fight many of her strong beliefs. For example; "After
30 years of leading the company I had other avenues to pursue ... I wanted to do something useful with the money I had while
I am still able to," she says. But while she is nearing 65 years old, Roddick shows no sign of slowing down.
"A woman advancing old age is unstoppable," she laughs. "I think it's an obscenity dying rich and I don't want to be defined
by business; after all, we're only remembered for what we do in civil society." (Anita Roddick)