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How The Body Shop successfully incorporates young voices

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.

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Douwe Knijff

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Kim Pillen

Consultant

Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips, bol.com, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff

Researcher

Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.

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Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist