The Body Shop: Social Responsibility or Sustained Greenwashing?

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG067
Case Length : 25 Pages
Period : 2002-2006
Organization : The Body Shop International Plc.
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : UK, Europe, USA
Industry : Beauty care / Cosmetics

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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The Pioneer in Modern CSR

Body Shop was regarded as one among the first firms in the world to publish a proper report on its social responsibility initiatives. In addition to social activism, internal audit programs were conducted at Body Shop for environmental protection, health and safety at work, and the monitoring of 'Against Animal Testing Policy'. In 1991, it drafted the EU Eco-Management and Audit Regulation (EMAS), and in 1992, Body Shop published its first environmental statement called 'The Green Book'...

Body Shop's CSR Initiatives

Against Animal Testing

Body Shop did not test its cosmetic products on animals and did not commission others to do it on its behalf, as it considered this practice unethical. Along with customers and animal protection groups, Body Shop campaigned for a change in the law on the testing of animals for cosmetics purposes in the UK, Europe, the Netherlands, Germany, and Japan. Its campaigns had some major successes. In 1996, Body Shop presented the European Union with a petition signed by over 4,000,000 people, which at the time was the largest petition against animal testing. Body Shop was also instrumental in the UK government's decision in 1998 to ban animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients.

In addition to this, the company's campaigns also resulted in finished product test bans in Germany and the Netherlands. In Japan, Body Shop organized the first major campaign on this issue...


Though the company had a distinguished record as a pioneer of corporate responsibility, it had its fair share of critics. From the 1990s, Body Shop faced increased scrutiny regarding its activities and claims. Business ethics expert Jon Entine (Entine) was one of Body Shop's fiercest critics. Entine accused Body Shop and its founders of being hypocrites, as in his opinion, they were preying on the idealism of consumers, while not being any different from other companies in their pursuit of profit...

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