The Smell of Bullshit: Part 2.

I understand that someone has posted a link to this post on Mark Constantine’s facebook page. (Over 500 people have read that post in two days. Over 500 people are seeing the truth about Lush). I can’t access it myself as I deleted him from my facebook friends months ago. I have been copied into his response though, which is

Thousands of us work as hard as we can at our products, customer service and in making Lush a great place to work every day but still fall so far short for these fierce critics. All I can do is apologise for any shortcomings and keep working on it.

That’s just more bullshit. Keep working on it? How do you keep working on not treating staff like shit when your entire business model is based on treating your staff like shit? It’s not “falling short” when you have to be forced into providing your staff with the legally-required employment contracts. It’s not “falling short” when you bully staff out for being pregnant. It’s not “falling short” when your staff are working repeatedly in unsafe temperatures. It’s willful disregard of the law, is what it is. Lush’s shortcomings as an employer are nothing to do with trying their best but failing to meet unfairly high standards. They’re everything to do with Mark Constantine’s stated belief that Lush should not have to pay attention to employment law.

I’m sure someone will give him the link to this post as well, and I really hope they do. I don’t give a shit about your shoddy products, your lies about Fair Trade or the way you treat your customers – they’ll all realise what you’re like soon enough and go elsewhere. I care about what you’re doing to the staff. Mark, if you’re serious about “working on it” here’s what to do.

  1. Stop breaking employment law
  2. Recognise and accept that UK employment law applies to your UK business, and the employment laws of the various countries Lush operates in applies in those countries
  3. Stop breaking employment law
  4. Don’t bully staff out for being pregnant.
  5. Stop breaking employment law
  6. Do proper risk assessments and act on the findings
  7. Stop breaking employment law
  8. Health and safety laws exist for a reason. Obey them.
  9. Stop breaking employment law
  10. If you’re so sure you’re behaving properly, let the unions in. Encourage your employees to join the relevant unions. Work with the unions to make sure your staff are treated properly. They’re your most valuable resource.
  11. Stop breaking employment law
  12. Make sure every Lush workplace has a thermometer and heaters. When it gets cold, ensure the staff are warm enough, by shutting the fucking door and using heaters
  13. Stop breaking employment law
  14. Make sure staff get their legally required breaks
  15. Stop breaking employment law
  16. Pay attention to what the Working Time Directive says
  17. Stop breaking employment law
  18. Set up a proper HR department
  19. Stop breaking employment law
  20. Ensure the HR department sets up proper policies – things like disciplinary, grievance, sickness absence, fair treatment at work, health and safety, harassment, whistle-blowing, appraisal, performance development – and implements them
  21. Stop breaking employment law
  22. Stop breaking employment law
  23. Stop breaking employment law
  24. Stop breaking employment law
  25. Stop breaking employment law

I could go into more detail about things you and your company have done but the people who have told me things haven’t given me permission to post them. But people know what you’ve done Mark. Not just me. Lots of us know what you’ve done, how you’ve behaved, how you’ve treated people. We know. And one day soon someone will stand up to you and expose to the world how you really behave. You’re not above the law and it’s time you learnt that.

Edited to add: I was going to leave it there, but there’s something else I want to say about that stock response from Mark. Look at it.

Thousands of us work as hard as we can at our products, customer service and in making Lush a great place to work every day but still fall so far short for these fierce critics. All I can do is apologise for any shortcomings and keep working on it.

That response is all about “poor Lush, we try so hard and people are never satisfied.” There’s no taking responsibility there. There’s no “these are valid criticisms.” “Fierce critics” implies the fault lies with me, the blogger, and the Lush employees who responded to the post with stories of their own. Expecting Lush to behave in accordance with the law is, apparently, an unreasonable expectation. Mark is trying to present my criticism of him and the way he manages his company as criticism of his hard-working employees. Let’s be absolutely clear about this: I am not criticising the ordinary Lush workers. I am criticising Mark, Mo, Hilary and everyone else involved in making the management decisions about how the company is run and how the staff are treated. I am certain that like most people, Lush employees work hard. Unfortunately though, they don’t just have to work hard. They have to work hard and do a good job and cope with shit money, shit treatment, no proper policies, no proper support and an employer who thinks they don’t even deserve the minimum protections afforded them by the law.

7 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit: Part 2.

  1. Personally I am incredibly offended by his response! I work well over my contracted hours every week. I get into work when it’s still dark and often leave 10-12 hours later. I don’t see my fiancee – whom I live with – for days on end because of the shifts we work. I approach every customer; I demo as many products as possible; I provide good advice; and I grit my teeth and deal with the obnoxious children whose parties we have to host, and through every pamper session we provide to a yummy mummy while she unleashes her destructive offspring and treats our shop like a creche. I smile, I’m kind, I massage (not that I’m even remotely qualified to do so), I link sell, and I offer till-point add-ons.

    Since working at Lush I have developed both the physical and mental symptoms of stress and anxiety. I talked about my job with my GP and she told me I should leave. She told me my working conditions were illegal. I was never a negative person in my life before – and I’m near 30 so it’s not like I’ve got teenage angst issues!

    I work my butt off. The reason I am stressed, depressed, and unhealthy is because I work in the cold for excessively long hours, often with inadequate breaks, because if I don’t I can’t afford to live. We can’t drink water, lean, or sit down on the shop floor, so we have to effectively leave the shop to do either. The problem with this is that if it’s a busy day, you don’t drink or rest because you can’t leave. I’ve actually been asked to “hold it in” when I’ve needed to pee during a busy spell! I was furious! I also work with people who have been asked not to go into university, but to work a shift instead because their availability no longer works for the shop. That is out of order!

    And on the last post someone mentioned the hygiene. Oh my gosh, I could write a novel! We’re not allowed to use any proper cleaning products because they aren’t ‘green’. We are expected to use vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda to clean our toilets, sinks, and surfaces. Have you ever seen a toilet that is used by tens of people and has never been properly cleaned? It’s disgusting. We are also expected to use Lush shampoo to wash dishes and cutlery – with the same brush that we use to clean out customers’ mouldy returned pots. It’s really quite amazing that nobody has come down with dysentery! When someone mentions the state of the toilet, the stock response – whatever store you’re in – is “chuck a bath bomb in it.” I’m sorry but fecal matter is fecal matter – it doesn’t get any more hygienic if you coat it in glitter.

    And let me tell you something else: the product quality has indeed declined. During the time I have worked for the company I’ve seen the number of recharges, recalls, and refunds increase dramatically. None of what I initially loved about Lush remains, which is why I’m moving on. Lush has done everything necessary to completely repel me from the retail industry. I am seeking a new career.

    If the social justice bloggers want to see real, genuine exploitation then all they need to do is take a walk down their local high street. Lush is no different from anybody else, and in some ways is worse.

  2. Having commented on your previous post I had to comment here too. Firstly, thank you for bringing an outlet to what I believe must be 100s of frightened, downtrodden, and just damned miserable employees. I know there’s not only me – your previous post shows there isn’t only me. A search on google shows even more. I don’t care what the Best Companies survey says – Lush simply isn’t a great place to work for all of us, although – in the interests of balance – I know it is for some

    The response from Mr Constantine truly saddens and disgusts me. No one at the top is remotely working hard to put policies in place, if they were why don’t we still have standard policies in place after how many (Wiki tells me 18) years of trading? The contracts (if you’re lucky to have one) are like a ‘contract by numbers’ – I am guessing the most basic that exist. There is no company sick pay scheme (just SSP), which means people drag themselves into work when they really should be resting – the basic wage is so poor as it is, SSP just doesn’t help. I don’t think that’s a sign of an ethical employer. There is no formal appraisal scheme, so it’s hard to move up or progress, and again you can work your behind off and know it won’t be for a pay rise or even for a promotion – it’s like treading a road to nowhere. In fact, he’s already admitted in the the post I alluded to earlier that progression is based on pot luck and is completely random. It must be lining someone’s pockets, though?

    The people who are working extremely hard are those on the front line. I know, I am one of them. We are those who sell the (below par) products (not just my opinion, it’s all over the Internet and even on the company’s own facebook page). I feel ashamed when a customer comes back with a chemical smelling moisturiser that has gone off well before its use by – knowing full well it was recalled by head office but we are not allowed to put a notice up telling customers it was recalled (I asked my manager if we could and she said no, but she wanted to as well). How embarrassing was it to see children having their hands dyed pinky orange IN STORE when I gave them an “Enchanter” demo? Those at the top don’t see that do they? They don’t see a store full of low contracted hour part-timers scrambling for overtime like ants fighting over a crumb of cake. They don’t see the Managers & Trainee managers working 60 hour working weeks and forgoing a normal family life. I wonder if they have a good work/life balance? They see none of that. And me feeling sad about it and voicing concern is “fierce” criticism? Well I would love him to see the harsh reality of working in the company when you’re not right at the top. For those at us at the bottom the reality is different. Some of the most wicked individuals in history have had myriad honour, award and recognition bestowed upon them because one set of people were too afraid to speak out, and another set were so charmed, so utterly taken in, by the smoke & mirrors. I am not saying this man is wicked but I am saying just because someone wins an award doesn’t mean it is true, just because he doesn’t like what he hears, it doesn’t mean it is untrue. It is my opinion that the company believe what pleases them and the nay-sayers are dismissed as ‘negative’ or, in this case, ‘fierce critics’. Just because you don’t want to believe it, Mr Constantine, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    My opinion of his response is that it is full of faux self pity which poorly covers the complete disregard and the utter disdain with which he views his customers and his employees. I am not a ‘fierce critic’, Mr Constantine, I am a loyal, dedicated & hardworking employee. I love my co-workers, I love my customers, and I want better, I hope for better. Your comment shows me it’s time to cut my losses and stop hoping because when you take genuine, heartfelt feedback (that has taken me real guts to post, and I am frightened) and label it ‘fierce’, there really is no hope left for any of us.

  3. “They don’t see a store full of low contracted hour part-timers scrambling for overtime like ants fighting over a crumb of cake.”
    You, my friend, have perfectly described how life is at my store. I am based in a busy UK store. We are all deliberately kept on low contracts so we don’t get a lot of holiday pay. The ethics of Lush are a joke, a front, a way to sell.
    When I started, I loved it. Managers loved me, I felt like I was working for a company that made a difference. Fast forward two years and I hate my work life. I have to grit my teeth every time I try and sell their over priced skincare. I’ve seen wonderful people be picked on by management to the point of tears, I’ve heard disabled customers made fun of in the staff room. It all makes me very uncomfortable.
    To all of the staff members who have flocked here to blindly defend the company; I’ve been there. I, too, posted positivity on forums and blogs, ignoring the complaints of other staff members and shops. Wait until you open your eyes and see the rotten truth – Lush is nothing more than a gimmick.
    We are forced to annoy customers and terrorise them with constant badgering, in the name of “customer service”. Staff hate it, customers hate it, which leads to a very unhappy atmostphere in the shop.
    Anyone who is thinking of getting a job there, don’t. It has been the worst experience of my life. As soon as I get a new job, I’m gone.

  4. Pingback: The Smell of Bullshit: the comments post | Mitherings from Morningside

  5. I have worked for lush for 9 months, I loved it. Everything about it was perfect. Until I saw the cracks….
    They love “out-going” people right? I’m not out going at all and I hate hate hate being pushy for customers. I hate following them around the store and pressuring them to buy stuff. If a customer says they are just looking. I leave them and I get bollocked for it. I will tell them the truth about products too. I personally find skin care to be greasy on my skin, so I tell them how it is more me offer them a sample to try and see if they like it. I don’t want them to waste £12.00 on a product they hate. It’s not a lot of money but it can go a long way. I’ve been made to feel like a traitor so to speak because not everything I use is from lush. Boo fucking boo. I’m on a 4 hour contract it’s difficult to get by and it’s difficult to keep up the happy environment when you feel like complete Shit. My supervisor called me useless the other day too because I was slow. I’m sorry that things at home are shit and I’m only here to get money for my family. I was told to leave personal issues at the door. Easier said than done. My notice period is 4 weeks, by law I can give a week though even though my 4 hour contract states 4 weeks. I have a full time job offer and I took it. Handed my notice and was made to feel bad. In the end I walked. Lush to me was not a good company to work for.

  6. I had been trying to get a job with Lush for a year, to no avail. Upon reading these posts, I feel it was possibly a good thing they practice age discrimination at least in my case. After sending in over 10 CV’s for positions for which I was eminently qualified and not even getting an interview, I decided to send in 2 different CV’s for the same position. One was my real CV with over 20 years of management experience, and the other was a false one where I stated I was 23 and had worked retail for 6 months as my only other job. Guess which CV got the interview? My real resume was denied even a meeting because “we received so many qualified applicants with more experience” Really applicants with more experience than my 20+ years of retail management experience with the same company? A company that is recognized worldwide and is much larger than Lush?–I had wanted to work for Lush because I had enjoyed their products so much. I say enjoyed as in the past tense, I will continue to enjoy my over 50 bottles of Lush perfume and my own little store, but my days of spending 1000 a month are gone.
    I would have been a great employee to encourage customers my own age (40’s) to purchase the higher priced items such as magical moringa or million dollar moisturizer. Unfortunately the faux application which got an interview of course will not happen–Why wouldn’t this company want a seasoned employee who is competitive, loyal and would rake in the big bucks–yes a younger employee might push the bombs and bubble bars, but it takes 8 bombs to make up for a higher pried moisturizer. I know Lush products inside and out, being a loyal customer for 15 years, I know my stuff. It does appear though that Lush is not the company I thought it was, It truly is their loss that I wasn’t given a chance, but probably will turn out for the better.
    I have also heard from a reliable source that Lush has an agreement with hundreds of ebay sellers where they sell their expired stock at a reduced price to these ebayers, so when you see an ebay seller selling the same items over and over–they are not from their personal stock (who has 15 shangri-la’s) they got them from Lush. It is unfortunate that this company doesn’t remember their roots and the diffiulties in getting into the Health and beauty market. As more information gets out regarding their practices–poof it can all be gone, and as the glitter dust settles–the public will move on.

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