JA moves forward with corporate responsibility initiative

The JA board of directors approved three elements of its corporate responsibility initiative. They are: the development of self-assessment and training tools and policy and procedure reviews for JA member jewelers, the implementation of the “JA Supplier Code of Conduct,” and collaboration with leading international corporate and institutional bodies.

“A credible and effective commitment to corporate responsibility throughout the supply chain is essential to maintaining consumer confidence in the industry and in its products,” said JA president and CEO Matthew A. Runci, who also serves as vice president of the Consumer Confidence Commission of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation. “Because retailers—most often the public’s sole contact with the jewelry industry—have face-to-face accountability to consumers, and because the U.S. market is dominant, we believe it is appropriate that JA play a lead role in the effort to foster international collaboration through CIBJO.”

CIBJO’s Consumer Confidence Commission held its first meeting in London last week. Participants hope the meeting will be the genesis for international cooperation on corporate responsibility among all segments of the industry.

To help its own members meet their responsibilities, JA is designing an internal monitoring service as a member benefit. Elements of this service under consideration include a diagnostic self-assessment tool, mystery shoppers, training for sales professionals and store management, and policy and procedure reviews. JA members who subscribe to this service will earn a special designation, which they can use in their advertising, promotion, and communication with consumers.

These actions are the latest developments in JA’s corporate responsibility initiative, which began to take shape more than three years ago when JA retained the services of PricewaterhouseCoopers to help identify and evaluate risks associated with issues beyond conflict diamonds confronting the jewelry industry. The consulting firm’s work is ongoing.

In 2002, JA revised its mission statement to express JA’s commitment to social, ethical, and environmental principles. The JA Board of Directors also adopted a comprehensive “Statement of Principles” for JA and its member jewelers that same year. This framework served to confirm JA’s expectations of its members in regards to corporate responsibility.

The “JA Supplier Code of Conduct”, adopted by the JA BOARD earlier this year, was designed to help members uphold and maintain the JA Statement of Principles. The goal is for JA members to encourage their suppliers to adopt the ethical business practices described in the Code of Conduct, to effect positive change throughout the jewelry supply chain.

The JA BOARD recently approved steps to begin to put the JA Supplier Code of Conduct into practice. In the coming weeks, JA will send its members information on their role in the code’s implementation. Among other materials, members will receive tips on communicating their expectations for responsible corporate practices to their suppliers.

Several working committees of JA member jewelers continue to review the findings of PricewaterhouseCoopers and recommend courses of action for JA. New efforts will focus on conflict diamonds, human rights, labor rights, the environment, compliance with anti-money laundering regulations, business integrity and accountability, and equitable economic development.

These steps are all in addition to the JA “Code of Ethics” and “Rules for Professional Business Conduct,” which JA introduced to its membership in 1999. The objective of that document was to establish guiding principles and ethical best practices for the JA membership. Each year, JA members agree to continue adhering to the Code of Ethics as part of their annual membership renewals.

JA keeps has released position statements on conflict diamonds, labor practices, and responsible minerals sourcing, and continues to emphasize to members the importance of staying up to date on these and other issues involving corporate responsibility. In addition to working with the trade, JA has established an ongoing dialogue with the non-governmental organizations and advocacy groups that have articulated concerns over the jewelry industry’s practices.

Additional information on JA’s corporate responsibility initiative, including the full text of the JA Code of Ethics, JA Statement of Principles, and the JA Supplier Code of Conduct, is available online at www.jewelers.org.