Professor David Fish
Business Management 302
February 24, 2012
Anita was born in Littlehampton in 1942. As the child of an Italian immigrant couple in an English seaside town, Anita was a natural outsider, and was drawn to other outsiders and rebels. James Dean was Anita’s schoolgirl idol. Anita also had a strong sense of moral outrage, which was awakened when she found a book about the Holocaust at the age of ten. Anita trained as a teacher but an educational opportunity on a kibbutz in Israel eventually turned into an extended working trip around the world. Soon after Anita got back to England, her mother introduced me to a young Scotsman named Gordon Roddick. Their bond was instant. Together, Anita and Gordon opened first a restaurant, and then a hotel in Littlehampton. They married in 1970; they already had a baby and another on the way. The Beginning
Anita opened the first The Body Shop on March 26, 1976 in Brighton, on the south coast of England. Anita simply wanted to create a livelihood for herself and her two daughters, while her husband, Gordon, was trekking across the Americas. Anita had no training or experience and my only business acumen was Gordon’s advice to take sales of $300 a week. Nobody talks of entrepreneurship as survival, but that's exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught Anita business is not financial science, it’s about trading: buying and selling. It’s about creating a product or service so good that people will pay for it. Now 30 years on The Body Shop is a multi local business with over 2,045 stores serving over 77 million customers in 51 different markets in 25 different languages and across 12 time zones. Anita had no a clue of how they got here!
Approach to Leadership in Business
It wasn’t only economic necessity that inspired the birth of The Body Shop. Anita’s early travels had given her a wealth of experience. Anita had spent time in farming and fishing communities with pre-industrial peoples, and been exposed to body rituals of women from all over the world. Also the frugality that her mother exercised during the war years made me question retail conventions. Why waste a container when you can refill it? And why buy more of something than you can use? We behaved as she did in the Second World War, we reused everything, we refilled everything and we recycled all we could. The foundation of The Body Shop's environmental activism was born out of ideas like these. One of Anita’s strengths was the empathetic way in which she dealt with her employees, she would meet / approach with all them at one time or another, go to every part of her organization, sit in on meetings, motivate them and empower them to stretch their abilities, so one could agree that Anita Roddick used the HR approach to leadership. This perspective puts emphasis on the ‘social interaction’ and processes at work.  Human relations approach; is a school of management thought based on findings in research carried out by Elton Mayo which emphasizes the importance of such an approach. Huczynski & Buchanan, (2001). “The hallmark of human-relations theories is the primacy given to organizations as human co-operative systems rather than as mechanical contraptions. Wilson & Rosenfeld, (1990).
Anita was aware that success is more than a good idea. It is timing too. The Body Shop arrived just as Europe was going 'green’. The Body Shop has always been recognizable by its green color, the only color that we could find to cover the damp, moldy walls of my first shop. Anita opened a second shop within six months, by which time Gordon was back in England. He came up with the idea for 'self-financing' more new stores, which sparked the growth of the franchise network through which The Body Shop spread across the world. The company went public in...