Following the realization that a lack of young voices in the boardroom of The Body Shop makes it hard to build a business worthy of passing down to the next generation, the company set out to find a way to incorporate younger perspectives into the governance of the company.
In a first attempt to create a shadow board of youngsters, they recruited a small group of passionate Gen Z’ers to critique the company on important issues like sustainability. The initiative flopped. The youth board was too radical in their criticism, as some of the group consisted of activists that regarded commerce in general as harmful from a sustainability standpoint. This led to colorful conversations, but nothing constructive.
In a second attempt, they figured out that for a youth board to work, it had to share the same goal as the regular board; for the company to succeed (in a sustainable way). So they recruited youngsters from within their own company, as well as people under 30 from other b-corps. The result was far more valuable input from the youth board and, importantly, this also led to more willingness from senior leaders to listen to their board. After all, they all shared the same desire to add value to the company.
To be future-proof, it is invaluable to incorporate the wishes of your future employees and customers. That is why it’s no wonder that more and more companies are exploring ways to incorporate young voices. On top of that, it can be a great way to empower young employees with more responsibility and influence, resulting in more commitment and motivation among young talent. Just keep in mind that picking a bunch of passionate young people off the streets will get you properly roasted, but is not going to lead to valuable input, as they are not interested in your brand’s success. Read the full case here.