News | 20th February 2016

The Body Shop Marks 40th Year with Pledge to Be World’s Most Ethical, Sustainable Global Company

By Sustainable Brands

To mark its 40th anniversary, The Body Shop has unveiled a pioneering global CSR strategy that will underpin all aspects of company operation. The new commitment will reaffirm the global cosmetics brand’s positioning as a leader in ethical business and will define its next stage of development.

The commitment, entitled Enrich Not Exploit™ – which will support The Body Shop in its aim to be the world’s most ethical and sustainable global business – is an extensive program of global activity and measurable 2020 targets that touches all areas of the business.

As chairman and CEO Jeremy Schwartz explains: “We’re launching our commitment, called ‘Enrich Not Exploit’ – and that word, ‘exploit,’ is not one that I think other companies would state; it obviously puts us under a challenge and a microscope. But we’re very confident that the approach we’re taking enables us to live up to that claim.

“We’re setting ourselves a goal to be the world’s most ethical and sustainable global company. And we’re going to get there, where others aren’t, because … we are looking at what does the planet need to flourish, and looking to complement that – where others are looking to reduce the amount of damage they’re doing. It’s a very different approach, and a brand-new approach that nobody else is taking.”

“The Body Shop courageously pioneered new ways of thinking, acting and speaking out as a company,” Schwartz said in a statement. “Our ground-breaking campaigns were ahead of their time and changed laws on animal testing, domestic violence and human trafficking. We were the first in beauty to use community trade and we still have the strongest program in the industry. We are small, but we lead.

“Today for all of us, the greatest challenges lie ahead and The Body Shop’s 40th anniversary is the perfect time to reassert our aim for leadership in ethical business,” he added. “For us, being truly sustainable means shaping our business to work in line with the planet’s natural systems so they can replenish and restore themselves. With our Commitment, we’re challenging ourselves to go further than we’ve ever gone before to make a real, sustainable and positive difference.”

Enrich Not Exploit will see The Body Shop committing to protect and nurture the environment and society across every part of its business: ingredients, products, packaging, stores, employees, suppliers and campaigns. The Body Shop worked with the Future Fit Foundation – established in 2014 by Bob Willard and Geoff Kendall, who together developed the Future Fit Business Benchmark – to set and shape the company’s seven long-term sustainability goals.

Chris Davis, The Body Shop’s International CSR and Campaigns Director, says: “We have set ourselves ambitious, inspiring and measurable targets for our commitment. We are developing new practices to enrich the planet in which we operate whilst helping our company grow and prosper. Our new commitment combines all the experience and knowledge of our expert people with new advances in science and technology.

“It means understanding how our business is contributing to our existence on the planet, understanding what we need to change to contribute to a sustainable future by working backwards from a visionary end point to the here and now and asking ourselves what comes next,” Davis said. “We’ll continue to work in partnership with suppliers, NGOs, academics, governments and other businesses to deliver the innovation and changes needed to make our ambitions a reality.”

“What excited us about working with The Body Shop is that Chris Davis and his team really ‘get’ that there is a difference between simply being in the lead, and being a true leader. It’s relatively easy to do better than the next guy, or better than last year, and that may put a company in the lead – at least for a while. But given the scale and complexity of the challenges we as a society face, being ‘less bad’ is not good enough,” Kendall said via email. “True leadership … means committing to doing business in a way that creates value while protecting the *possibility* that humans and other life can flourish on Earth forever.

“This is no Utopian vision, but rather a statement of the minimum every company must do – no matter what its size or sector – to gain its entry ticket to a sustainable future. That’s what future-fitness is all about. And there isn’t a company today – at least none I’m aware of – that is truly future-fit. In fact if you judge companies by their public commitments, only a handful are even trying to move beyond change-as-usual.”

Under the commitment’s three pillars — enrich our people, enrich our products and enrich our planet — The Body Shop has 14 specific, measurable 2020 targets that make the business accountable for delivery:

Enrich Our People

  • Double its Community Trade program from 19 to 40 ingredients and help enrich communities that produce them
  • Help 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world
    Engage 8 million people in its Enrich Not Exploit™ Commitment mission, creating its biggest campaign ever
  • Invest 250,000 hours of employee skills and know-how to enrich the biodiversity of local communities

Enrich Our Products

  • Ensure 100% of its natural ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, protecting 10,000 hectares of forest and other habitat
  • Reduce year on year the environmental footprint of all product categories
  • Publish its use of ingredients of natural origin, ingredients from green chemistry, and the biodegradability and water footprint of its products
  • Develop an innovation pipeline that delivers pioneering cosmetic ingredients from biodiversity hotspots and which helps to enrich these areas

Enrich Our Planet

  • Build Bio-Bridges, protecting and regenerating 75 million square meters of habitat helping communities to live more sustainably
  • Reduce the environmental footprint of our stores every time we refurbish or redesign them
    Develop and deliver three new sustainable packaging innovations
  • Ensure that 70% of its total product packaging does not contain fossil fuels (the company is already making headway on this thanks to a 2015 partnership with Newlight Technologies, which will see The Body Shop switch to Newlight’s AirCarbon packaging)
  • Power 100% of its stores with renewable or carbon-balanced energy
  • Reduce by 10% the energy use of all its stores every year

The Body Shop has inspired and helped its parent company, L’Oréal, make significant progress in sustainability and, in particular, in Community Trade. The Commitment contributes to and enhances L’Oréal’s rigorous sustainability framework, Sharing Beauty with All. The Body Shop’s specific addition to the framework is called Retailing Sustainably. As L’Oréal’s largest retail brand, The Body Shop has a unique role to play in the design, management and sustainability of its retail outlets and the relationship with its customers.

“The Body Shop can be both a force for good and a successful, profitable business. 40 years ago [founder] Anita Roddick set out a challenge for The Body Shop to tackle the big issues of her time. We’re now tackling the big issues of today,” Schwartz added. “We want our Enrich Not Exploit™ commitment to inspire a new generation of customers, supporters and especially millennials who truly care about how a company operates. Re-establishing The Body Shop as a leader will come from delivering our ambitious aim to be the world’s most ethical and truly sustainable global business.”

This article first appeared on Sustainable Brands.

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