POUGHKEEPSIE, NY | NOVEMBER 2, 2017 - The Women's Jewelry Association (WJA) launched today its first ever "advocacy task force" to explore and ultimately create actionable tools, training, education, workplace coaching, and mentorship that can be utilized by WJA members to advance women's roles in the jewelry industry workplace.
Topics to be explored by WJA's task force may include (but will not be limited to) how to positively impact:
- The number of qualified women in professional leadership positions in the jewelry industry.
- The number of qualified women serving as directors on jewelry industry boards.
- Gender-related biases in the jewelry industry workplace, including policies related to caregiving, advancement, and compensation.
- Other gender-based jewelry industry workplace issues, including discrimination and sexual harassment.
The formation of the WJA advocacy task force is a direct result of data and input received from a series of focused, strategic planning sessions conducted in early 2016 (and again in 2017) by the Women's Jewelry Association international board, chapter presidents, and other affiliate members. During those sessions, the topic of advocacy on behalf of women in the workplace became a theme for new ways to provide benefits to WJA members and to further the organization's overall mission.
"Though our mission has always been to promote the professional interests of women in the jewelry and watch industries, we hope to become an even greater resource to our members by offering focused programming on professional development and work-related topics," says Bernadette McGovern Mack, WJA executive director.
"Ultimately, our goal is to foster systemic, lasting progress in the areas of leadership and representation."
The advocacy task force is comprised of current WJA members from across the country and represents many of the jewelry industry's professional sectors. It has been charged with defining the scope and goals of WJA's advocacy efforts toward the development of resources for women, men, and companies to get smarter on gender-related issues.
Working group members include Ashley Chan, Lei Lee Jewels; Jen Cullen Williams, Luxury Brand Group; Peggy Jo Donahue, Peggy Jo Donahue, Writer; Anna Martin, Gemological Institute of America; Susan Posnock, Jewelers of America; Maren Rosen, Stuller; and Laurie Watt, Mayer & Watt, along with WJA President Brandee Dallow, President-Elect Jenny Luker, and Mack.
WJA has also retained Cecilia Gardner, former president, CEO, and general counsel of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, to assist the task force. Gardner now runs her own consultancy. WJA will also be requesting the help and assistance of additional, interested women and men who are leaders in the jewelry industry, to drive and inform the further actions of the advocacy project.
The association plans to deploy a series of surveys to its members, as well as the industry at large, to learn more about their needs.
"My most sincere hope is that by exploring, discussing, and understanding the issues facing our members today, WJA can create a road map that will help companies recognize the value of fully empowering women - whether it be through balanced representation, wage equality, education, or training - throughout every level of the jewelry supply chain," says Dallow. "I am extremely proud to be a part of an organization that has, and will continue to have, such a positive influence on women's roles in the jewelry and watch industries."