Anita Roddick, Entrepreneur and Prophet to Business

Our work is very often our art and may provide a primary arena for bringing values and Spirit into society: Via Creativa marrying the Via Transformativa.  It surely was that for Anita Roddick who dared to bring spirit talk to business while growing her own business.  She writes:

The Body Shop’s core values. Image from the Body Shop Facebook page.

My vision, my hope, is simply this: that many business leaders will come to see a primary role of business as incubators of the human spirit, rather than factories for the production of more material goods and services.

Values matter. A business that satisfies only the monetary bottom line is not adequate. Anita elaborates:

There is more to all this than measurement and that brings us back to the word “reverence.” There is a spiritual dimension to life that, for me, is the real bottom line. It underpins everything. . . . To me it is a very simple attitude that has nothing to do with organized religion. It means that life is sacred and awe-inspiring. In my travels around the world, I have been grounded — as millions also have — in the most fundamental of insights: that all life is an expression of a single spiritual unity. We are not, as humans, above anything, contrary to what Christianity tells us; instead we are part of everything. This interconnection has to be sacred, reverent and respectful of different ways of knowing and being. . . . The business of business should not just be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed.

In her autobiography, Business as Unusual, Anita Roddick wrote of her journey as entrepreneur/ activist, and the issues she sought to elevate.

She writes about the role of conscience in our work worlds:

There is no more powerful institution in society than business. It is more important than ever before for business to assume a moral leadership in society.

Business must move away from “commerce without conscience,” she says:

My biggest fear is seeing not just the planet’s business, but also the planet, being controlled by a handful of gigantic transnational corporations. You can see the beginning of this in the way that global brands are starting to raise our children. They entertain them, feed them, clothe them, medicate them, addict them and define the way in which they relate to each other. . . . This kind of global monoculture wreaks a soulless kind of destruction. Not just on families but on family farms.

She warns that these “large faceless organizations” need careful watching and reporting about lest they accomplish evil deeds under the cover of darkness.

Adapted from: Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior for Our Times, pp. 246f.

See also: Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work.

Banner image: What Anita Roddick fought by insisting on sustainably sourced ingredients: rainforest land clearcut for palm oil farming, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo by Vincentraal on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

Anita talks of “reverence” and of work being “an incubator of the human spirit” and life being “sacred.”   Is that your experience where you work?  If not, can you try to make it so as Anita did in her chosen profession?

Recommended Reading

 While Matthew Fox recognizes that Eckhart has influenced everyone from Julian of Norwich to Eckhart Tolle, Karl Marx to Carl Jung, and Annie Dillard to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, he also wants to introduce Eckhart to today’s activists addressing contemporary crises. Toward that end, Fox creates dialogues between Eckhart and Carl Jung, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rabbi Heschel, Black Elk, Karl Marx, Rumi, Adrienne Rich, Dorothee Soelle, David Korten, Anita Roddick, Lily Yeh, M.C. Richards, and many others.

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

2 thoughts on “Anita Roddick, Entrepreneur and Prophet to Business”

  1. Avatar

    Also thank you for your posts. I read them daily. I loved the ones on Otto Rank very much. I believe that worker cooperatives fit very well with what you teach on creativity and compassion and justice. We need artist cooperatives as well as church worker cooperatives that are putting out services and sacred activism. Thanks, Ex

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Ed,
      Thank you for introducing the theme of cooperatives into our conversation. Cooperatives put so many aspects of Creation Spirituality into play, including shared leadership, shared resources, and shared purpose. It is possible that they offer us the model we need to move forward from this crisis. You have inspired an image in me of cooperative local communities and wider communities of communities all living in cooperation with Creation.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: