Culture – Supporting Social Activism & Managing Diversity

Taking a high profile in the community is a better marketing effort than trying to outspend the competition asserts Anita Roddick. Toward this end, The Body Shop has taken on an aggressive role espousing social activism. Our business is about two things: social change and action and skin care, said Roddick. Social change and action come first.

Essentially, Roddick believes in applying morality to business, I believe quite passionately that there is a better way, she said. I think you can rewrite the book on business. I think you can trade ethically; be committed to social responsibility, global responsibility, empower your employees without being afraid of them. I think you can really rewrite the book. That is the vision, and the vision is absolutely clear. Roddick has thus humanized business. It’s creating a new business paradigm, she said. It’s showing that business can have a human face, and God help us if we don’t try. Its’ showing that empowering employees is the key to keeping them, and that you empower them by creating a better educational system. It’s showing that you forsake your values at the cost of forsaking your workforce. It’s paying attention to the aesthetics of business. It’s all that. It’s trying in every way you can. You may not get there, but you try to make the journey an honorable one.

According to Roddick, it is important that stores adhere closely to the values articulated even if it means altering plans. Because of the company’s environmental policy, in Oregon, The Body Shop had to forego the use of a seemingly brilliant ingredient a plant called “meadow foam” which seemed promising in Shampoo but was an endangered species.

Roddick’s social activism and environmental consciousness have been securely woven into the very fabric of the organization. To her business “relationships” are what are important they are what has been going on for centuries. It is just buying and selling with an added bit for me, which is the magical area where people come together – that is, the shop, said Roddick. It is trading and making your product so glorious that people don’t mind buying it from you at a profit. Their reaction is, I love that, Can I buy that? You want them to find what you are doing so wonderful that they are happy to pay your profit.

Six Arguments for Managing Cultural Diversity:

Cost Argument: As organizations become more diverse, the cost of a poor job in integrating workers will increase. Those who handle this well will thus create cost advantages over those who do not.

Resources Acquisition Argument:
Companies develop reputations on favorability as prospective employers for women and ethnic minorities. Those with the best reputations for managing diversity will win the competition for the best personnel. As the labor pool shrinks and changes composition, this edge will become increasingly important.

Marketing Argument: For multinational organizations, the insight and cultural sensitivity that members with roots in other countries bring to the marketing effort should improve these efforts in important ways. The same rationale applies to marketing to subpopulations within domestic operators.

Creativity Argument: Diversity of perspectives and less, emphasis on conformity to norms of the past (which characterize the modern approach to management of diversity) should improve the level of creativity.

Problem solving Argument: Heterogeneity in decision and problem solving groups potentially produces better decisions through a wider range of perspectives and more thorough critical analysis of issues.

System Flexibility Argument: An implication of the multicultural model for managing diversity is that the system will become less determinant, less standardized and therefore more fluid. The increased fluidity should create greater flexibility to react to environmental changes (i.e. reactions should be faster and at less cost).