Last week, you will recall Virginia Drosos, CEO of Signet Jewelers made a public statement in the jewellery press, responding to Human Rights Watch report entitled The Hidden Cost of Jewelry. In it she claimed that Signet were a responsible jewelry company and at the forefront of leading the way in responsible sourcing. My response in addressing some of Drosos’s more exaggerated claims came in my blog, CEO of Signet Jewellery – Simply doesn’t get it.
Signet’s response to my article, was to send me a standard auto response from their email server. Indeed they sent it twice, such was their commitment to communicating how responsible their sourcing practices are. Anyone engaging in the #BehindtheBling campaign seeking to get luxury jewellery brands to face up to their malpractices will have received an identical auto response.
We received your e-mail sent to us at Signet Jewelers via the Human Rights Watch website regarding your concern about claims of child labor, environmental practices that potentially harm people’s health, and other human rights issues in gold and diamond mining. Since you asked for additional information about how we address these matters, we provide our response with additional information about the responsible practices in place at Signet. Please allow me to begin by thanking you for expressing your concern for these important topics.
Signet believes that visibly leading in the area of responsible sourcing is essential for our success. As part of our efforts to take the lead in ensuring the integrity of the global jewellery supply chain Signet created the award-winning Signet Responsible Sourcing Protocols. These Protocols, which currently cover gold, diamonds, silver, platinum, tin tungsten and tantalum (with colored gemstones to follow), were developed via extensive industry collaboration and are mandatory for all Signet suppliers. Based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains, they put a special emphasis on ensuring that our supply chain does not contribute to conflict, as well as to the protection of human rights.
Certified Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) membership is also a requirement for all Signet jewellery suppliers. This certification assures Signet and our customers that suppliers practice responsible sourcing. RJC membership reinforces Signet’s industry leadership position on responsible practices and requirements in the areas of human rights, health and safety, and labour practices throughout the global Signet supply chain.
Moreover, RJC Provenance Claims provide independently certified assurance about Signet’s gold supply chain. Since 2014, Signet has been the only jewelry company to provide independently audited “conflict-free” gold reports annually to the SEC, and will continue to do so. At the same time, we are continuing to improve and strengthen our responsible sourcing measures as we strive to remain at the forefront of the industry’s efforts.
Additional information regarding Signet’s commitment to the continuous improvement of the global jewelry supply chain can be found in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report and our on our website. We encourage you to check this site occasionally to receive additional updates.
Thank you again for your interest in this very important topic and our entire industry.
It is auto responses like the one above, that undermine the credibility of companies like Signet. If you have the words ‘responsible sourcing’ in the subject line of your email to Signet, the computer will respond on behalf of the company with an impersonal politically crafted asinine declaration of meaningless jargon. Consumers of jewellery concerned with sourcing issues, willing to spend big money on gold and diamonds should be treated with dignity, not patronised with straw words.
Virginia Drosos is the CEO of a company which claims jewellery is a special purchase that signifies memory, occasions and most of all love. Her treatment of genuine concerns in the Signet supply chain reveals a corporate impersonal, risk adverse and condescending attitude that is directly in contradiction to their sales and marketing rhetoric. This disconnect devalues Signet. This is not rocket science – if Signet cannot tell which hole in the ground their gold, diamonds and gemstones come from, their claims are hollow. Come on Virginia, time to enter the 21 century of honest communication.