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11.9.07

Dame Anita Roddick DBE: leadership is about humanity 

[Cross-posted] I cannot be sure whether, if Dame Anita Roddick had not lived, Lucire would have taken the ethical, socially responsible route. It’s not so much that we don’t believe in corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, would we have had the courage to have become the United Nations Environment Programme’s first fashion industry partner in 2003? Dame Anita had showed that CSR could work in the fashion and beauty business, so when I started harping on about it, I didn’t look like a freak. She had already paved the way in the 1970s and dealt with the sceptics. Our lives were made easier through Anita Roddick.
   I cannot say that it was Dame Anita who made me aware of CSR, but I wonder whether it would have had as high a profile if she hadn’t practised it. Her business’s transparency in the sourcing of her products’ ingredients was also an insightful move.
   I had made the decision at the turn of the century that, as a businessman, I had to use the company that I had built up since 1987, and Lucire which had a good international profile, to promote ethical causes. In that, Anita and I came to the same decision, though she was quicker and earlier.
   She wrote on her personal site, ‘Businesses have the power to do good. That’s why 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.’
   I remember when Dame Anita endorsed my friend Stefan Engeseth’s latest book, One: a Consumer Revolution for Business. This was a big deal: someone that Stefan and I both admired endorsing a book that we both worked on (he did the hard work of writing it; I created its layout and directed its typography). Stefan, no stranger to the ideas behind CSR and the power of the consumer, emailed me almost immediately.
   She wrote, ‘If corporations don’t open the door to consumer power voluntarily, they’ll soon be forced to. ONE is about keeping up with changing times.’
   I believe Dame Anita to be right, hence my work with transparency and ethics over the years. And she has proved to be a step ahead of all consumer trends, reminding us how we should look after our planet and the lives on it.
   It’s time for us to reflect on her life and how we need to stay focused on our causes, globally. We should look deep in ourselves and understand how leadership is founded not on confrontation, but on bringing forth humanity’s universal truths. And in Lucire today, we look back on her life and her accomplishments.
   I wish it wouldn’t take the passing of a leader like this to force us to look at these issues in such a reflective manner. We should live to lead and make a positive change every day.

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Note

Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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