This Thursday (March 8, 2018) marks International Women’s Day – a global meeting of minds that address challenges for women in the workplace, at home and in the wider world.
Of course, this day is also about celebrating inspiring women who are making a difference, standing up for others and doing innovative and interesting things in their chosen field. This year’s International Women’s Day has the theme #PressforProgress, with an emphasis on staying motivated and being determined to succeed no matter the goal.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of reasons why women need to stay motivated to make change. According to a recent report by the BBC, the majority of medium and large companies pay higher wage rates to men than to women. This disparity, known as the gender pay gap, reflects the different average hourly salaries earned by men and women.
According to data by the government, 74% of businesses pay higher rates to men, while just 15% of businesses with more than 250 staff members pay more to women.
And while pay continues to be an issue, the lack of diversity in senior management and leadership roles is also a cause for concern. According to Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium: “Companies harnessing the power of diversity throughout their business, from the bottom to the top, do better. So, why is it still that not enough women in retail are able to climb the ladder?”
Quoted in a report by Women in Retail, she continue: “Change will not happen unless we come together as an industry, recognise more needs to be done and take effective action.”
Did you Know? There are just 10 female board members out of a total of 67 across all seven member companies of the Diamond Producers Association. At executive committee level, women account for just 11% of the total number of employees (six out of a total of 53). Diamond Producers Association October 2017 figures
This Women in Retail report titled ‘The Commercial Advantage of More Women in the Boardroom’ goes on to highlight that 60% of people employed by the retail industry are women, and 85% of all retail purchases are made or influenced by women. Despite this, only 20% of executive teams and just 10% of executive boards are women.
But the problem doesn’t start and end with retail. Throughout the jewellery supply chain women are grappling for better opportunities. In 2002, the South African Mining Charter introduced quotas to get mining companies to employ at least 10% female staff (there were just 2% women in the year 2000). This enforced step towards diversity was pushed further in 2017, and mining companies (including the likes of De Beers) are now required to include a minimum 25% black female representation at board level and a 44% minimum black female requirement at junior management level.
Yet the focus on ‘gender diversity’ often misses the issue of ‘gender inclusivity’ – while one is a numbers game, the other requires companies to create policies that make people feel welcomed, accepted and empowered in their roles. The US-based Women’s Jewelry Association is currently tackling this head-on with its new ‘advocacy task force’, which targets “gender-related biases in the jewelry industry workplace, including policies related to care giving, advancement and compensation”.
Taking up this mantle in the United Kingdom is the Women’s Jewellery Network. Co-founder, Kathryn Bishop, says:
“The Women’s Jewellery Network was conceived several years ago, and officially launched at IJL in 2017. Myself and founder Victoria (McKay, COO of the London Diamond Bourse) had found, increasingly through conversations with our women peers in the industry, that they and their colleagues wanted more support in their career progression in the UK industry.
“Whether they were graduates, management, worked in retail or were established designers, there was a clear lack of specific body in our trade that could support women in their career progression. So the WJN was born – a platform where women can connect with one another, meet in person through a nationwide series of events, converse through social channels and, over time, build a UK and international hub of women in industry able to connect, grow and inspire one another.”
Topics being discussed by the Women’s Jewellery Network for International Women’s Day include the #NoGlassCeiling campaign, launched in January to inspire women to look beyond the (invisible) glass ceiling that can often be a barrier to their personal growth, achieving the work/life balance, and finally how women’s own lifestyle choices and tastes will shape how the industry evolves in the years ahead.
Other members of the IJL community agree that a sense of collaboration is required to make changes. Sarah Greenaway, founder of jewellery brand Mosami and an active member of industry change group, Fair Luxury, comments:
“In a rapidly changing world where consumers are increasingly asking questions about where and how their purchases are made, our industry has some profound changes to make. Personally I find this an incredibly exciting time with an opportunity to create real differentiation in parallel with building a future-fit business that has a positive impact (or at least neutral impact) on the environment and a positive impact on society.
“Solving problems as huge and deep rooted as these requires courage, collaboration, drive and compassion – all are things that women excel at, and I fiercely believe that by working together we will make real and lasting changes – a legacy for our children.”
Lisa Levinson, a diamond specialist and consultant to the trade, adds: “Role models are important, there’s a legacy of women pioneering diamond exploration. Female scientists discovered some of the most important diamonds mines. Larissa Popugaeva discovered the first diamond bearing kimberlite in Russia, Maureen Muggeridge found the Argyle diamond mine and Eira Thomas found the Diavik diamond mine. I find that inspiring, they excelled at world’s largest treasure hunt.”
And Lucy Quartermaine, designer and IJL exhibitor, notes: “As a woman in the jewellery industry, I have been fortunate to be supported by other women whether other designers, media, marketing or those working within industry bodies. The strong network of women in the business enables us to share ideas and experiences as well as celebrate our successes.”
In the spirit of role models, we believe it is important to highlight some of the incredible females in our trade. Take a look below to discover some of our pioneering exhibitors and community members… of course, there are many many more!
For innovative pearls… look no further than Claudia Bradby, Miranda Raw of Raw Pearls and Bibi Southwell of ORA Pearls
For forward-thinking suppliers… turn to Julie Fowler Drake of Talbots
For up-and-coming talents… don’t miss Farrah Al-Dujaili of Oddical, Alice Barnes, Cara Tonkin and Lauren Rowden of Ellie Air Jewellery
For sales stars… speak to Laura Ager of Bezel Watches, Victoria Louise of LucyQ and Carol Sinfield of Hockley Mint
For big business… track down Lucy Reece-Raybould, executive director of business development at the Company of Master Jewellers, and Helen Haddow, chief executive of the Houlden Group
For industry media titans… contact Ruth Faulkner of Retail Jeweller, Stacey Hailes of Professional Jeweller and Belinda Morris of The Jeweller
For designers with discretion… don’t miss V by Laura Vann, Sif Jakobs, Anna Emmett of Henryka, Rachel Galley, Susi Smither of The Rock Hound and Vicki Smith at VIXI Jewellery
Share your #IWDxIJL2018 stars on social media. Here’s to a fantastic year for all our pioneering female exhibitors, visitors and Diamond Club Members!