Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Ethical" Lush Cosmetics refuses to open Israeli store, but Saudi Arabia is OK

From TheJC:
Skincare company Lush says concerns about the lack of a "mixed" workforce would prevent it opening a store in Israel - but it operates stores in Saudi Arabia.

And this week the company, which has just opened a new store in Brent Cross, north-west London, defended its decision to promote a pro-Palestinian song on its website.

Customers have been challenging staff in the Lush store in Brent Cross, about the company's support for Oneworld's single "Freedom for Palestine". The head office has received 223 emails to date on the issue.

On the Lush website, under "Our Ethical Campaigns" it says: "The catastrophe facing the Palestinian people is one of the defining global justice issues of our time."

Hilary Jones, the company's ethics director, admitted that Lush had been approached by the charity War on Want about putting the single online, but said it had not donated to the cause.

She said: "It was an easy decision. We trade with the region and forge links on both sides of the community. We buy olive oil from a Jewish-Arab project.

"But we don't feel it's a safe environment to have a store. Would we want a shop where we couldn't have a mix? We have a multicultural attitude to everything we do; we want everyone in the country where we are trading to be on an equal footing as far as basic human rights go. Some of the team would have to come through checkpoints and be treated differently on their way to work – that would be our worry."
I hadn't heard about those checkpoints that distinguish between Israeli Arabs and Jews in Israel. You can learn a lot from an ethics director!

Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the fact that Saudi women are not allowed to even drive to the 2 Lush locations in Riyadh does not pose an ethical dilemma for this well-read director of ethics.

I think it might be time to drop a line to the Saudi Arabian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the infamous religious police known as the Muttawa. After all, can they actually allow this product to be sold in their stores?

It seems to be more offensive than Valentine's Day roses!