Antwerp Meeting Focuses on Ethical Business


October 19, 2005

Antwerp Meeting Focuses on Ethical Business

Diamdel Antwerp and the Diamond, Jewellery & Management Institute of Antwerp convened a one-day workshop Oct. 17 to provide a forum for the local diamond industry to discuss the importance and value of ethics and reputation in business.

Simon Gilbert, of De Beers Group External Affairs, presented the Diamond Development Initiative to delegates. DDI is a joint effort of the diamond industry and human rights groups to help poor diamond diggers (mostly in Africa) address poverty, unemployment and overcrowding, which in turn can contribute to the spread of disease, prostitution, illegal weapons trade, drug trafficking and civil wars.

Gilbert encouraged all those attending to play "an active and participative role. All players in the diamond industry should examine the means to which they can assist in enabling the objectives of DDI to become a reality. It is essential that, in partnership with governments, a united industry plays an active and constructive role in addressing those developmental issues associated with an area of the pipeline that remains uniquely open to abuse."

Following a presentation on consumer confidence by Tim Dabson, business responsibility manager, Diamond Trading Co., and Martin Leake, business improvement and development manager, BHP Billiton, briefed participants on the background of the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices. Leake made clear the need to introduce and maintain common verifiable standards within the jewelry trade, while ensuring that requirements did not place an unnecessary burden on businesses. Leake said the concept is in its early stages of development and remains wholly inclusive. He encouraged participants to visit the CRJP website (www.responsiblejewellery.com) where an open forum has been constructed to foster debate on the matter.

Other participants included Christian Leysen, chairman of the AXE Group, who engaged delegates on issues surrounding ethics and good governance outside of the diamond industry. Peter Anthonissen, a consultant, spoke about crisis communications and reputation building.

"As long as companies believe corporate responsibility to be something separate from the main business agenda, they will continue to be vulnerable," said Frank Auger, managing director, Diamdel Antwerp. "The heart of best practice lies simply in a fair and honest approach to business: brilliance and transparency must radiate from every facet of our industry."

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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