EXPERT OPINION: Suzy Hutomo, CEO, Body Shop Indonesia
What made you passionate about helping conserve the marine environment?
I have always had a personal connection with the marine environment. Growing up, I used to spend a lot of time in the ocean with my father in Pelabuhan Ratu in the South Coast of Java. The marine environment has always interested me and I have always appreciated the benefits it has given us. Also being a resident of Bali, I am very concerned about the state of our beaches and oceans, and the amount of coastal destruction we see nowadays due to unsustainable development. As a member of the private sector, I feel that I have the responsibility and capability to do something about this by applying and promoting more responsible business practices.
What do you think has been the biggest hindrance for private sector players to implement more responsible business practices?
I think in most cases, this stems from the top. Leadership is very important. Company leaders need to promote the right values and find a way to employ more environmentally-responsible practices in all aspects of the business—from source to end product. Most of the time, companies are only concerned with making full profits at the expense of the environment. This is a very short-term approach to business. If we are to continue offering the products and services to consumers, we need to also make sure that the resources on which such products and services depend are well taken care of.
What has been your business philosophy and how is this reflected in Body Shop Indonesia?
More businesses need to understand the triple bottomline approach: profit, planet, and people. These are the core values that we at the Body Shop follow. We believe that true success is measured by how our business impacts or contributes not only to economic growth, but also to social welfare and environmental sustainability. There can be no profit with dead oceans. This is why the Body Shop sells products that are not harmful to marine creatures and the environment. We also participate in events such as Earth Hour and the Coral Triangle Day, to help spread messages to our customers on the importance of conserving the environment. On a personal level, I also commit my time and energy to promoting environmental conservation, which is why I became an accredited presenter of Al Gore on climate change.
What is your message to other business players aiming to do the right thing?
It doesn’t take much to transform your business and lessen your impact on the planet. But it takes commitment. It takes one step at a time to effect change, but you need to start somewhere. Business and industry play a very important role in conserving the environment but they first need to see more clearly their connection with nature and people. This needs to be a collective effort from the entire industry. The right enabling conditions need to be present in terms of government policies and consumer awareness for businesses to get to that place where environmentally-friendly products are the norm rather than the exception.