Keeping Body Shop & soul togetherJune 2013
Paul McGreevy is international values & r&d director at The Body Shop. He tells Ethical Performance about the role of CR within the ethical British beauty retailer that boasts over 2,500 stores in 60 markets.
CSR impacts broadly on a business - how wide is your remit?
A Founded on being ‘a force for good’, this continues to be at the heart of everything we do. Our Community Fair Trade program celebrated its 25th birthday in 2012 and today the programme gives us some of our finest ingredients and accessories in the world, and brings real benefits to over 300,000 people.
Activism is in our blood, and The Body Shop has always campaigned on issues close to our heart, we are enormously proud of the Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign and the EU Ban on Animal Testing for cosmetics.
Where is your current CSR focus?
A We are very focused on Against Animal Testing (one of our core values) due to the EU Ban that came into effect on the 11th March 2013 and by working closely with Cruelty Free International we hope for it to one day go global. Our major focus remains Community Fair Trade. Helping these communities out of poverty, enabling them to have better housing, sanitation, medical aid, education and empowering women by helping them to provide for their families all give us a proud sense of worth not to mention the long-term sustainable business it brings to our community partners.
What are the hottest issues for you currently?
A After over 20 years of campaigning, The Body Shop and non-profit organisation Cruelty Free International are finally celebrating the end to animal testing for cosmetics in Europe. This ground- breaking victory means that from now on, anyone who wishes to sell new cosmetic products and ingredients in the EU must not test them on animals anywhere in the world.
The ban affects all cosmetics including toiletries and beauty products from soap to toothpaste. The Body Shop is one of the few beauty brands who will not be affected by the ban, having always been Against Animal Testing.
This great achievement in Europe is only the closure of one chapter. The future of beauty must be cruelty free.
As part of L’Oréal, whose ethics are ‘respect, integrity & excellence’ and therefore a great fit, how do you work together?
A L’Oréal now buy from some of our Community Fair Trade suppliers and have set up their own solidarity sourcing program with over 140 projects to help marginalized communities. The group has also invested over €900 million in alternatives to animal testing.
Where do you think The Body Shop is leading the way?
A Community Fair Trade; we have achieved so much over the last 25 years, and the programme continues to increase its impact and gain strength.
The Body Shop Foundation is also exceptional, having benefited over 2600 organisations all over the world, working with grass roots organisations, helping create “acorns into oak trees”.
The Body Shop also has a volunteering programme giving employees the opportunity to take part in local volunteering in their community, as well organised treks across the Sahara for the charity Water Aid.
I myself have just completed the Sumatra Jungle Trek in Indonesia to help raise funds to protect the lives, habitats and existence of the orangutan with funds raised benefiting The Orangutan Foundation - it was a truly amazing experience!
What have been your most recent CSR initiatives?
A The Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign; In September 2011, we presented over 7 million campaign petitions to the United Nations Human Rights Council making it one of the largest petitions in the history of the United Nations in tern influencing governments in 20 countries to commit to long-term legislative change that will help protect children and young people for many years to come. The Body Shop Wood Positive initiative is a more recent project whereby we aim to plant and protect more trees in the Ecuadorian Andes and the Atlantic Rainforest with the World Land Trust and Nature & Culture International. We match the amount of card and paper we use in our international supply chain of which are already sourced as responsibly as possible thereby increasing the world’s natural resources rather than depleting them.
And your most successful initiatives?
A Our new Boutique store concept – Incorporating cutting edge design, top quality materials and natural imagery, the boutique-style store creates a warm, welcoming space to excite and enthuse people about The Body Shop products and Values and reducing our CO2 emissions on average by 40%.
What other companies (or individuals) inspire you in the CSR field?
A Our customers and staff inspire us the most; they quite rightly have high expectations, and always want to raise the bar higher. We believe the bar can never be too high.
Some say that a lot of CSR debate has plateaued - do you agree?
A No, the debate around positive economy is emerging. We believe that our Community Fair Trade programme still leads the way in creating sustainable business around the world and that business can be a force for good.
Social media gives us the opportunity to engage directly with our supporters and can help enhance people’s understanding on these subjects and to provide richer content through these kinds of channel.
CSR is moving from ‘governance’ to a point of difference.
People today expect the minimum but want to engage more with companies that go above and beyond.
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