Many years ago I was privileged to know Anita Roddick and to watch her grow as an entrepreneur from starting her first commercial venture opening an American style diner restaurant serving homemade burgers, to establishing the Body Shop as a global brand.

What struck me most about Anita almost from our first meeting, was her ability to engage with her employees and customers. Her passion and enthusiasm for what she was doing was infectious; her willingness to listen to and take on feedback was amazing.  She treated everyone with respect and valued their contribution. Not only was she visionary in everything she did, but she really cared about her Company’s impact on the environment, its relationships with suppliers and the community.

Anita not only embraced change, she was hungry for it.  She saw change and ‘challenging the status quo’ as the life blood of her business and combined this with a real curiosity about the world.  This sent her searching around the globe for new ingredients and ways of doing business.  I remember how clear she was from the very beginnings of the Body Shop, that she needed to be mindful of the impact she would have on suppliers and their communities.

What I admired most though, was Anita’s willingness to challenge the ‘establishment’ who had a vested interest in retaining patriarchal power and control.  She was almost vilified for her vociferousness about working with integrity and transparency, co-creating business and empowering others. This courage more than anything else for me, made Anita a true pioneer of Conscious Leadership.

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