Lush closing Friday to allow staff to march in climate strike

Students around the world have been skipping school to march in protest of global leaders’ inaction on  climate change, and now certain employers are enabling their employees to do so as well.

Vancouver-based Lush Cosmetics North America will be shutting down its 50 Canadian stores, as well as its online shopping system and its manufacturing facilities. “Greta’s invitation is something we decided to accept,” says Carleen Pickard, an ethical campaigns specialist at Lush, referring to Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist at the forefront of the climate strike effort.

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Helping employees participate in the demonstration is an extension of Lush’s philosophy that workers should be able to live their values, including in the workplace, she says.

“For us, not only does business recognize the climate crisis and the emergency, but for the past year there’s been this increasing awareness that staff have been impacted by the effects of the climate crisis. So whether it’s the flooding in Houston, hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Florida, wildfires all up and down the West coast, hearing staff both not being able to come to work, but their increasing concern around the lack of any kind of action by global leaders, is something we’ve absorbed into our thinking about how we do business.”

Pickard says the company felt it was something to which employees would respond strongly. “We’re very open about the fact that we take a stance on issues.”

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Human rights, animal protection or environmental justice are all causes close to the company’s core, she adds. Lush tries to be fluid, taking opportunities to give back as they arise, which engages staff and gives them the chance to work towards causes about which they’re truly passionate.

“We have a year-round volunteering problem that we do to engage our staff with partners and in a way that’s a direct link for folks,” says Pickard.

It’s healing and inspiring for staff to witness and participate in the collective power of a global movement, she says. The palpable excitement felt among the staff is at the centre of why the company feels its necessary to help employees engage in a cause.

“It felt like a historic movement.”

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