New from Responsible Jewelry Council

Responsible Jewelry Council the leading standards organization of the global jewelry and watch industry. It has more than 1,300 member companies that span the jewelry supply chain from mine to retail. RJC Members commit to and are independently audited against the RJC Code of Practices – an international standard on responsible business practices for diamonds, colored gemstones, silver, gold and platinum group metals.

The Code of Practices (COP) addresses human rights, labor rights, environmental impact, mining practices, product disclosure and many more important topics in the jewelry supply chain. RJC also works with multi-stakeholder initiatives on responsible sourcing and supply chain due diligence. The RJC’s Chain-of-Custody Certification (CoC) for precious metals supports these initiatives and can be used as a tool to deliver broader Member and stakeholder benefit. Through the implementation of the COP and CoC members contribute towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 agenda.

RJC is a Full Member of the ISEAL Alliance – the global association for sustainability standards and RJC is a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2009.

For more information on RJC Members, Certification, and Standards please visit: www.responsiblejewellery.com and connect with us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.


An Introduction to – Human Rights

Human rights is an issue of tremendous importance and vast impact, affecting everyone regardless of age, race, location or wealth.

In fact, the United Nations General Assembly meeting in a matter of weeks, will convene in New York to strengthen the global agenda on this issue for years to come.

While an important milestone like this should be applauded, it can sometimes be difficult to engage in what’s covered at these kinds of multilateral meetings. We all recognize the importance of human rights but can sometimes feel disconnected from the outcomes of such events.

In this month’s blog, the Responsible Jewelry Council (RJC) will highlight the basic principles of Human rights, showing how Small-to-Medium size enterprises (SMEs) can engage in meaningful ways on this issue and illustrate that anyone can make an impact at the local level.

Let’s start with looking at the definition of human rights:

According to the United Nations (UN), “Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.”

While we can all agree this definition is clear and compelling, we’re left with a critical question: how do these rights translate into action for businesses?

To answer this, a brief review of relevant legislation is needed.

Arguably, the most important piece of legislation for Human rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This document was created to address the atrocities of World War II and includes 30 Articles. These articles protect human rights on a range of topics, from being born free and equal in dignity and rights, to freedom of religion, protection from torture and the right of asylum from persecution.

Human rights risks may feel far away from your business, but Human Rights abuses or impacts can be found in any country, sector and workplace.

You likely already have been dealing with human rights risks within your own business, perhaps without connecting human rights language to it. Examples include:

  • Your health and safety procedures
  • Providing a safe workplace
  • Your working hours policy
  • Paying your employees correctly
  • And ensuring there is no workplace discrimination

The UN Guiding Principles make it clear that small businesses also have a responsibility to respect human rights. SMEs often have less capacity and more informal structures than larger companies. A more informal approach to respecting human rights can still be effective, as long as there is a policy, a fit-for-purpose due diligence process and a process to enable remedy.

That’s the big picture on Human rights, but what specifically, can you do about it?

We’re glad you asked. RJC’s new Human Rights Due Diligence toolkit, which has just  launched, is available to the entire watch and jewelry industry, regardless if you are a member or not!

The toolkit features key enhancements, including context on Human Rights and what due diligence means for the industry. It provides practical steps to carry out due diligence and how these steps can vary based on a company’s size and role. Each step includes a practical set of tools, including templates, forms, and checklists to simplify the human rights due diligence process as much as possible, particularly for smaller businesses.

Topics as important as this should be prioritized in every industry across the board. Importantly, the RJC understands that this can be daunting and many misunderstand how it applies to small businesses. The clear, holistic and actionable nature of this toolkit takes all that into account.

No matter what size a company is, it can make a difference to not only individuals working within the industry, but will have a positive ripple effect on families, communities and nations.

As always, we are here to help you. Even if you are not a member and you would like support or guidance on how you can make a change, email us at: membership@responsible.jewellery.com and we would be more than happy to help!

We look forward to hearing from you.

 


RJC launches SDG Taskforce to drive action and benchmark progress in the jewelry industry

To celebrate the launch of the new industry SDG Taskforce, Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director at Responsible Jewelry Council, spoke with The Plumb Club about this exciting milestone and the impact on consumer confidence.

Congratulations on the launch of the industry SDG Taskforce, this is a considerable milestone for sustainability in the jewelry industry.
Thank you. We’re excited! The launch of the RJC SDG Taskforce signals a monumental shift in the industry and is an exciting milestone for the global jewelry and watch industry. 15 years ago RJC had a vision to transform the jewelry and watch industry to be more responsible and sustainable. We began by uniting the industry behind a common set of standards, and now we are uniting the industry again as we go beyond compliance from ‘do no harm’ to ‘do good’. Leadership is critical, for the industry and within the industry, and that is why I am so proud of the Plumb Club Partnership as this is real pioneering work.

Why is the SDG Taskforce critical to the future of the jewelry industry and how will this have a positive impact on consumer confidence?
Consumer confidence is critical to our industry. Over the past year, consumers have realized that sustainability includes employers protecting jobs, supporting the communities in which they operate, ensuring equality, and protecting human rights. It is vital that consumers can see the positive actions being made by organizations throughout the entire jewellery supply chain. The SDG Taskforce will provide a clear course of action and practical guidance to jewelry-related businesses and, quite importantly, provide a way to measure and track progress across the whole industry.

Can you tell us a little more about what the SDG Taskforce will do?
Our primary goal is to advance the sustainability agenda in our industry through action. And so, the SDG Taskforce will establish an SDG Action Platform to coordinate the efforts of the industry, launch a global library of best practices, build a unified reporting framework based on existing international best practices, and further develop new ways and ideas to implement the 17 UN SDGs within the watch and jewelry industry. The SDG Taskforce will report on progress made within member companies and the industry through the annual RJC Progress Report and updates will be published to a dedicated web page.

The jewelry supply chain is complex, how have you managed to ensure full representation?
Representation and cooperation within and outside of the industry is a core principle of the SDG Taskforce. The SDG Taskforce includes 26 leaders of the global jewelry industry together with the representatives of NGOs, other trade organizations and academia who will convene on a regular basis to drive change and track progress throughout the supply chain – from mining to retail.

What action can small businesses take towards the SDGs?
I often say that sustainability is a journey of continuous improvement. Whatever the size of your organization and wherever you are in your journey, there is always something that you can do. Most likely you are already working towards the SDGs, and you can build from where you are.

For more information on the SDG Taskforce visit: http://responsiblejewellery.com/sdg-taskforce/