‘Reignited enthusiasm’: How a group of young people are leading the marketing of The Body Shop


Following a commitment made at Cop26 to increase youth representation within its organization, The Body Shop is taking inspiration from the next generation by bringing them into the boardroom. Its managing director for the UK and Ireland, Maddie Smith, explains.

Last week, The Body Shop announced the formation of its Youth Collective – a program the beauty brand hopes will empower its leadership team and represent the values ​​of the next generation of leaders.

Made up of 12 people under the age of 30, the Youth Collective was recruited from The Body Shop and other B companies. Meeting four times a year, the collective will work alongside The Body Shop‘s Managing Director, David Boynton, and the rest of the leadership team by sharing their insights on topics ranging from brand activism campaigns to its long-term strategy.

“We think it’s really important to deliver internally what we’re asking to be done globally,” Smith says.

“As a company, we have a very strong desire to have different and diverse thinking in our organization, so this is an opportunity to do just that and also bring the voices of young people to the fore.”

The Body Shop has favored ethics and values ​​since its creation. It specializes in selling ethically sourced, cruelty-free and natural products. This morphed into campaigns to end animal testing in the cosmetics industry, alongside broader social justice campaigns.

“The campaign is in our DNA,” says Smith, but “not only are we a sustainable company, but we’ve done a lot of work to amplify the voices of young people,” citing his report “Be Seen Be Heard” in collaboration with the around understanding youth political participation and its grassroots work with the British Youth Council around lowering the voting age to 16.

“We have a lot of young people working for us, but we also have a lot of young consumers. Thus, when our general manager [David Boynton] and director of activism [Christopher Davis] looked at the number of issues facing our society today, they felt that rather than trying to pick a specific issue, it was more important to hear young people talk about what they think is important.

The Body Shop team also took inspiration from their youth panel at the UN’s Cop26 conference, held in Glasgow last November. “There are so many very young, very motivated, very passionate and enthusiastic people out there and it’s interesting for us that it’s so easy to think young people are a little apathetic – but they’ve rekindled our energy and enthusiasm. “

Smith also points out that the Youth Collective will offer a lot from a business perspective. “Right now, we are also focusing on how to get more young people working, and especially on retail as a good career. Many of us who work here have worked their way up the retail ladder and developed amazing careers through it. »

Last year, The Body Shop implemented an open hiring policy in an effort to be more fair and inclusive to applicants. Open hiring means the first candidate to apply gets the next available entry-level opportunity at one of the brand’s stores or distribution centers.

Smith says this is now bringing more young people into the business by default, but the remaining challenge is to ensure they grow and develop within the organization. (This remains a major problem in the advertising and marketing industries, as some 54% of industry professionals who left advertising in recent years say they did so because the work just wasn’t enough. difficult for them.)

“This is where the Youth Collective comes in. Selfishly, we want their input on how we run our business, but it’s also a great opportunity for them to develop their leadership skills so they don’t stall halfway. Now, not only can they interact with senior management, but they also present their ideas to them. »

While other organizations may be inspired by The Body Shop’s attempt to increase diverse representation in the boardroom through the youth collective (“We need diversity of thought, not just in business, but to solve the problems that we face in society”), warns Smith. that brands cannot be timid in their approach.

“One of the dilemmas we expect to face is what happens when the youth collective disagrees with the leadership.”

His advice? “If you want to go down this road, you’re going to have to face the fact that, like us, you made this big internal commitment, but we did it knowing that yes, making sure young voices were heard in the organization is of paramount importance.

“But they won’t always have the view you want them to have.”

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