Global jewellery industry calls for immediate action on gender equality

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The global jewellery industry has called for collective and immediate action on gender equality, a crucial building block in developing a strong and responsible supply chain that contributes to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 5.

This resounding call for action was made by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), the world’s leading standard-setting organisation for the global jewellery and watch industry, with the unveiling of its ground-breaking report, ‘The time is now to accelerate SDG 5, achieve gender equality, and empower all women and girls.’

RJC-GE-Report

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap report, it will take 257 years to close the economic gender gap. While all industries have the responsibility to address this gap, the jewellery industry is taking tangible action, underpinned by the efforts of RJC, which has rallied all stakeholders to promote gender equality across the supply chain. For many years, RJC has been resolutely working towards addressing gender equality in the industry and has actioned a series of ‘Generation Equality SDG 5 in Action’ roundtables and workshops to raise awareness amongst RJC members and the broader industry of the importance of addressing gender equality. The findings and recommendations for paving the way forward from these efforts are outlined in the report, which was exclusively unveiled today at the VicenzaOro 2021 Tradeshow – an event that gathers the most influential leaders and stakeholders in the global jewellery industry.

The report presents four key themes: commitments and business policies; talent attraction, training and retention; creating a culture of inclusion; and value-chain initiatives. Underlining the importance of the commitment from leadership coupled with business policies, the report calls for creating a structure for employees to understand the parameters that address critical imperatives in promoting gender equality. These are valid for all organisations, irrespective of size. The report further underpins the need for specific practices to attract and retain female talent and remove any barriers that exist.

Published in collaboration with Business for Social Responsibility and other key stakeholders, including the World Jewellery Confederation, the thoroughly researched report was announced by Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of RJC at the ‘Sustainable Development Goals: Meeting Their Challenge’ seminar, organised by CIBJO, and hosted by the Italian Exhibition Group. The seminar is part of a series that aims to promote the principles of sustainability, responsible sourcing and social engagement in the jewellery and gemstones sector and is endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It was co-presented by the Responsible Jewellery Council.

Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of RJC, said: “In some areas of the supply chain women make up 70% of the workforce, but that is not reflected in higher paid skilled positions and in the Board room. If the business case for gender equality is widely accepted, why are some CEOs not taking action? This is the question we wanted to answer, and to create a meaningful benchmark for the entire supply chain to monitor progress in the Decade of Action towards SDG 5. On behalf of our members, I would like to thank BSR, CIBJO, WDC, WJA and the leadership group for their dedication and guidance in creating the first global report on the status of gender equality in our industry. The jewellery and watch industry have a larger ambition to create a better, fairer world by 2030 and, with collective action we know this is possible. I call on all CEOs in our industry to take immediate and accelerated action towards SDG 5. Every small step matters.”

Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of RJC

David Bouffard, Chair of RJC, added: “Since inception, one of our top priorities has been to advance the role of women in our industry, and drive partnerships for future progress. We have identified areas that require immediate attention and have created a broad framework that inform policy by sharing the experiences of our members from around the world. The knowledge and experience of our members, highlighted in the report, will motivate the industry to further drive positive action to promote gender equality, which are all vital aspects of the RJC’s code of best practices.”

Gaetano Cavalieri, President of CIBJO, explained: “Urgent and sweeping changes are a must across the jewellery supply chain to empower women and realise gender parity to achieve SDG 5. At its core, this requires wider industry collaboration. Through the focus of bringing generation equality to our industry, we are urging all our partners to promote gender equality and to address any and all forms of injustice to women, who form the backbone of our industry.”

“The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and vulnerable groups has brought to light the need for greater focus on sustainable and resilient businesses to implement a people-centred approach that empowers women and promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion. From retail through to artisanal miners, the jewellery industry has an important role to play in advancing the SDG 5 agenda and supporting women’s rights and economic empowerment. BSR is excited to work with the Responsible Jewellery Council and its members to realise their commitment to SDG 5 across the industry value chain,” added Elisa Niemtzow, Vice President, Consumer Sectors and Global Membership, BSR.

The detailed report was prepared following a series of regional roundtables – covering Europe, North America, Asia and Africa – and comprehensive research, including a Gender, Diversity & Inclusion Survey conducted by RJC in collaboration with BSR. This report provides a collective view on the status of gender equality in the global watch and jewellery industry, leveraging on findings and reflecting on the ongoing dialogue to date, and is the product of strong collaboration and partnership with many key stakeholders in the industry.

Download the full report here.