Tiffany & Co secures highest ranking in ethics report

Tiffany & Co ranking by HRW – Strong

Tiffany and Co, founded in 1837, is a luxury jeweler with over 300 stores across 27 countries. Its 2016 revenue was approximately $4 billion, with jewelry representing 92 percent of its worldwide sales. It is publicly traded.

Tiffany responded to Human Rights Watch’s request for information with a written, detailed letter and met with Human Rights Watch staff in person.

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Tiffany and Co. states that it is “committed to reducing environmental impacts, respecting human rights and contributing in a positive way to the communities where we operate.” Tiffany and Co. has full chain of custody over its gold; it purchases newly mined gold exclusively from a single mine that is identified publicly, and the remainder of its gold from recycled sources. Tiffany has partial chain of custody over its diamonds, and can trace some of its diamonds to specific mines. It does not publish the results of audits or how it responds to cases of noncompliance. On the basis of available information, Human Rights Watch considers Tiffany and Co. to have made strong efforts to ensure human rights due diligence.

Supply chain policy:  Tiffany and Co. updated its Supplier Code of Conduct in 2016.The Code of Conduct outlines expectations of suppliers regarding human rights, labor practices, environmental protection, and ethical business conduct, and asks suppliers to align with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Each supplier is expected to sign the Code, and the Code is part of the companies’ contracts.  Diamond suppliers are expected to comply with the Kimberley Process and World Diamond Council System of Warranties.

Chain of custody: Tiffany and Co. has full chain of custody over its gold supply chain. Twenty-seven percent of its gold comes from a single mine in Utah, the Bingham Canyon Mine, and the remaining 73 percent comes from recycled sources. It sources all of its recycled gold from one supplier, which has the ability to segregate gold from mined and from recycled sources. Its rough diamonds are sourced primarily from Botswana, Canada, Namibia, Russia, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. Tiffany can trace some of its diamonds back to the mine of origin.

Assessment of human rights risks: All Tiffany and Co. suppliers are required to conduct a self-assessment based on the Supplier Code of Conduct. The company then assigns a low-, medium-, or high-risk rating based on the supplier’s self-assessment, the product category, past audits, and geographic location. Tiffany and Co. visits many suppliers on a regular basis; however, it does not visit mines of origin for diamonds. The company does not buy diamonds from Angola or Zimbabwe due to heightened human rights risks.

Response to human rights risks: Tiffany and Co. says that it works with suppliers (including mines, refiners, polished diamond suppliers, and diamond polishing subcontractors) through a Social Accountability Program to review and improve their human rights, labor, and environmental performance. The company says it implements corrective action plans in cases where problems are found. If suppliers fail to meet the Suppliers’ Code of Conduct, the company may end contracts with those suppliers, and has done so in several instances. Tiffany previously sourced from the Octea diamond mine in Sierra Leone, which has been associated with allegations of labor rights abuse and corruption; but informed Human Rights Watch that it stopped sourcing from Octea in March 2017

Third-party verification: Tiffany and Co. is certified against the RJC Code of Practices. Third-party audits are conducted regularly for all suppliers considered at high-risk to assess compliance with the Code of Conduct, and a targeted subset of suppliers. Audits address compliance with applicable laws, hours of work, wages and benefits, health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, child labor, forced labor, harassment and abuse, disciplinary practices, discrimination, and environmental protection. Audits do not include visits to diamond mines of origin.

Report annually: Tiffany and Co. publishes an annual sustainability report, which includes information on efforts to achieve responsible mining and ethical sourcing, and its approach to supplier audits. It does not provide any information regarding audits of suppliers, noncompliance information, or steps to address noncompliance.

Publish suppliers: The source of Tiffany and Co.’s newly mined gold, Bingham Canyon Mine, owned by Rio Tinto, is public. It does not publish information on its other suppliers but shared the names of some suppliers with Human Rights Watch on a confidential basis.

Support for artisanal and small-scale mining: Tiffany and Co. has provided financial support for the Diamond Development Initiative and the Institute for Environment and Development to help formalize and promote responsible artisanal mining in both the diamond and gold sectors. It does not source from artisanal mines but states that it is exploring the possibility of sourcing artisanally-mined metals that have been certified by third parties as responsibly managed, and hopes to begin such procurement soon.

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