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Anita Roddick – did she have the right ethos?

Last week the memorial to Anita Roddick was held at Westminster Central Hall in front of 1500 people on what would have been her 65th birthday. I’m sure many people reading this article that work for campaigning organisation will have a story to tell about her. She played a major part in the funding and campaigning support of so many organisations.

Is it too cynical to suggest that her involvement was all part of the building of the Anita Roddick brand? That she did so much just to position herself and the Body Shop in order to develop such a Unique Selling Point of being a highly ethical business. This certainly has attracted a significant number of her customers over the last three decades to turn her into a multi-millionaire, as they wanted to buy into the ethics of her and the Body Shop.

Before you answer, let me just say that yes, I think it is too cynical.
Anita Roddick was a woman who used her position and wealth to try and improve our society and the world. She was a business woman first and foremost. You have to be that single-minded to have her success. But what she did with her wealth and profile, often quietly and without excessive ego, was admirable.
When I was at the World Development Movement, she recorded a BBC Radio 4 appeal for us. She was easy to deal with and did the job that we asked of her, trusting what we asked her to read. This on top of “organisation-changing” sized donations from her foundation.

I believe that Anita Roddick was someone who demonstrated time and time again that her motivations were not cynical, but very healthy and that she had the right ethos.