For many corporate reformists and progressives, The Body Shop has been the poster child for corporate responsibility towards the environment, human rights and fair trade. L'Oreal, on the other hand, has represented the evil empire, and has been harshly criticized by The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick for animal testing and other unethical practices.
So it stands to figure that activists are split in their reaction to The Body Shop's decision to be acquired by L'Oreal.
In one camp are the pragmatists who accept the relationship between The Body Shop's social welfare ideals and the profit-driven gluttony of shopping malls where the company sells its products.
They're willing to take Roddick at her word when she says that she's done what any founder bought to do. that L'Oreal will compromise the ethics of The Body Shop. That is after all what they are paying for and they are too intelligent to mess with our DNA. "
Even Brooke Shelby Biggs of activist site CorpWatch thinks the acquisition could be a good thing. "Maybe Roddick is right," she writes. "Maybe a vastly expanded market will be good for the communities from which The Body Shop sources its products."
The Body Shop is, after all, a consumer business that sells stuff nobody absolutely needs. So, she figures, "if you're going to buy Body Butter anyway, it's good to know you're helping women in Ghana feed their families at the same time."
In the other camp are the outraged ideologies, violently shaken from their convenient rationalization that a $ 732 million, publicly traded corporation implemented primarily to validate their anticorporate beliefs. The UK-based Ethical Consumer threats to lower The Body Shop's "ethical rating," adding the company to a list of activist group that boycotts that already includes Microsoft, Bacardi, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Israel, Maxwell House, Procter and Gamble , Shell, Rolls Royce and the whole country of Canada.
Will this stop The Body Shop from leveraging L'Oreal's resources to expand as a global, socially responsible brand? Nope. But the villianizing and boycotts will further the polarization between corporate activists who want to get results by working within the market economy – and those who dream of destroying it altogether.
"Is The Body Shop window-dressing, or is it an admission that doing good can actually be good for business?" writes Biggs. Personally, I get irked at progressives who attack other progressives for not being pure enough, for questioning any motives that do not keep us marginalized. At least until they are proven to be misplaced. "
Amen to that.
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Source by Steven Silvers