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Anita Roddick Leadership and Business SuccessAnita Roddick Leadership and Business Success


Anita Roddick (1942- 2007)


Founder of the cosmetics retailer, the Body Shop in 1976, which was sold to L’Oreal in 2006 after she (pictured right) had given up control of the business in 2002.

Strong supporter of business ethics and corporate social responsibility.


What did she say about leadership and business success?

 Anita Roddick Leadership and Business Success

1. Be ethical and socially responsible

She always campaigned against:

  • animal testing for cosmetics (see picture right). 
  • exploitation of the Third World
  • damage to the environment.

She also actively supported local communities.

She set up a soap factory in a poor area of Glasgow, when it would have been cheaper to locate it near her head office in Littlehampton, Sussex. She gave 25% of the factory's profits to the local community.

“A company that makes a profit from society has a responsibility to return something to that society”, she said.


2. Inspire people


She motivated people by:

 Anita Roddick Leadership and Business Success

a) making work exciting and worthwhile

Businesses should be “incubators of the human spirit”, she said.


b) franchising

Franchisees ran Body Shop stores independently and received a share of the profits.


c) recruitment and selection

She chose franchisees and employees who were passionate about the Body Shop and her ethical beliefs.


d) respecting and caring for people


  • education and training
  • communicating with staff.
  • rewarding good performance.


“Put love where labour is”, she said, and always be special, never mediocre.

 Anita Roddick Leadership and Business Success

3. Marketing and innovation

Roddick (pictured right at her first shop in Brighton in 1976) was a revolutionary through: 

  • challenging the status quo
  • doing the opposite of what the rest of the cosmetics industry did.

She didn’t advertise or use expensive packaging but sold quality products with an ethical and green image.

The company was run by women, which gave it a better understanding of women’s needs.

 Anita Roddick Leadership and Business Success

4. Teamwork

She was greatly helped by her husband, Gordon (pictured together right), who complemented her perfectly.

  • Gordon (the expert in finance and management, coming up with the idea of franchising)
  • Anita (the inspirational visionary).

He was away trekking on horseback in South America in 1976, when Anita gave away half the business to a local garage owner for a £4000 loan.

His letter telling her not to do it arrived too late!


5. Change and innovation

She encouraged people to love change and make it work by giving them the opportunity to

  • excel
  • challenge existing ideas.
  • give their views.
  • make their own decisions.

She encouraged people not just to follow but to overtake her.


6. Visionary ideals, passion and energy

She was passionate about her dream of making a better world in which business is principled and socially responsible.

This passion fuelled her enormous energy and drive.

“To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality”, she said.Anita Roddick Leadership and Business Success


7. Love

The two most important things in her life were love of her work and family (pictured right with her two daughters). 


Key quote on business ethics

The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.


Key quote on corporate social responsibility

A company that makes a profit from society has a responsibility to return something to that society


Key quote on economics

The market has no heart


Key quotes on success

The desire that every day might be my last, and the desire to make the most of every moment drives me on.

To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality


Key quote on love

Be nice, for everyone that you meet is fighting a harder battle.


Key quote on unions

You only need unions when management are bastards.

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