Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Anita's legacy


Body Shop founder Anita Roddick passed away this week of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 64.

Despite her early passing, this pioneer of corporate social responsibility (CSR) left an indelible mark on the retail landscape.

Thirty years ago when Anita first started out in business, CSR reporting by major companies was unheard of. Sustainable development was still an emerging concept. And consumers were far less inclined to make ethically sound purchases.

Critics say Anita’s Body Shop policies went too far, eventually leading to economic crisis within the company.

These days, it’s a watered-down version of the Body Shop that greets consumers as they shop for scented soaps and body scrubs in the local mall. The company has since changed hands, and has become a mere shadow of its former self.

Nevertheless, Anita’s legacy will be a lasting one.

I, for one, will remember her as a woman who brought issues like animal welfare, social justice and sustainability to the public consciousness at a time when few dared to believe that change was even possible.

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