Living Up To Diamonds…We All Have a Role to PlayMay 10, 07
Full speech of De Beers Managing Director Gareth Penny at the World Diamond Council in Jerusalem, Israel.
We have a saying at De Beers that we feel neatly encapsulates what is required to reflect the unique qualities of our product. We call it Living up to Diamonds. This phrase gives focus to our purpose, vision and values that have been embraced across the De Beers Family.
We do not, however, believe that it is an aspiration unique to De Beers. It is a concept we can all aspire to and we all have a role to play.
Why is it necessary to develop such values and integrate them into every decision we make and every action we take? It is clear that diamond jewelry competes in an increasingly hostile environment where the consumer is becoming more sophisticated, better informed and more demanding, particularly on issues that impact our reputation.
Like the consumer, we too must be more demanding. We must demand only the highest standards of ethical behavior from our colleagues, our suppliers and everyone else we do business with. Turning a blind eye to where our diamonds come from will no longer be overlooked or tolerated by society.
Quality is no longer just a physical manifestation of the products purchased by consumers. Quality and value are now also measured against where the product comes from, who manufactured it and how.
Given the level of competition we face today, you can be assured that if we don’t check the source of our diamonds and don’t manage our individual reputations, someone else will.
Our experience from the conflict diamond issue and the industry response highlights the need to be prepared by developing demanding standards and living by them. Compliance with the Kimberley Process and strict adherence to the System of Warranties are not options, but should form the very minimal base from which to conduct our businesses – at every stage of the diamond value chain.
Diamonds are an emotional product and we often talk of the diamond dream. The consumer dreams of a diamond that will perfectly symbolize emotions such as love and commitment. Let us also remember the dreams of those millions around the world whose livelihoods depend on a prosperous and well managed diamond industry. From Botswana to India; from South Africa to Israel. Every one of them benefits from an industry that sets the pace in business and sets an example in the way it carries out that business.
The World Diamond Council has accomplished a great deal in seeking to achieve these ideals and De Beers is proud to be a member. It has gained international credibility and respect and remains the most effective and appropriate organization to represent the whole industry, right along the diamond value chain. It is proof that there is a fundamental need for, and many benefits to be gained from, the industry speaking with one voice.
However, in spite of recent successes, there are many challenges that remain and we must ask ourselves what the WDC requires to fulfill its potential over the coming years. The conflict diamonds issue, for example, has not left us and it would be complacent and dangerous for anyone to believe that it has.
To succeed the WDC partnership must hold a widely shared understanding about what constitutes a true partnership. Each of the partners must have a common vision of the future and expectations must be managed. The benefits derived from effective partnership within the WDC must be explained to, and understood by each of the various sectors.
The WDC partnerships cannot be a patchwork quilt of well-meaning intentions and ideas. It requires nurturing, compromise and re-assessment.
The time for consideration, realignment and action is now. The WDC must be truly representative of the industry and the people and countries in which we conduct business. It must be transparent and accountable to all those who participate in it.
In addition, the WDC must seek to expand its mandate beyond conflict and the resource capability of the WDC must be reviewed and where possible increased. It has to be in a position to address issues arising from the governance of our industry, its business ethics, environmental concerns and be able to demonstrate awareness of the issues facing the communities in which the industry operates – anywhere in the world.
A greater degree of professionalism must be introduced to enhance and support its leadership. We should not be afraid of innovation and, for example, serious consideration should be given to enabling NGO representation at advisory board level.
No sector or individual company can carry the burden of financing and supporting the World Diamond Council indefinitely. Of course support should be based on size and ability to pay. However, if we don’t contribute in an equitable way, we cannot reasonably expect to have a voice in how our industry evolves and interacts with the world around us.
In conclusion, I believe the WDC is essential to the continued success of the international diamond industry. I congratulate Eli, Gaetano and the many others who work so hard on our behalf in the defense of diamonds and I look forward to its vital role being enhanced by the unstinting support of everyone in the business.