This March issue has been a labour of love between Professional Jeweller and the Women’s Jewellery Network (WJN).
Here, we interview the WJN board, Victoria McKay, Kathryn Bishop and Nyasha Pitt, to find out more about the movement and the people behind this special guest edition.
Let’s start at the beginning… why launch the Women’s Jewellery Network?
VM: Because women’s views and requirements were, and remain to this day, underrepresented within a sector that is overwhelmingly targeted at female consumers. From the moment that I entered the trade in 2012, I could see a massive gap in terms of representation and voice for women and quite frankly, I wanted to be part of the change that the industry so desperately needed.
KB: We also recognised the need for a platform where women could find advice and build rapport with their industry peers, and in turn the support, connections and inspiration to further their career ambitions.
NP: And we could see the gap in terms of messaging and marketing to women across the global jewellery sector. We wanted to act as their voice and reflect their valuable insights and opinions back into the industry, to engender real and lasting change. No-one else seemed likely to pick up the baton, so, we did. And we ran with it.
What have you achieved since your launch?
VM: We’ve always had a clear vision and that’s paid dividends. As women working at senior and directorate level, we appreciate that we have all operated with privilege in an industry that has regularly undervalued the input of women and is severely lacking in female leadership. We’ve so far achieved a lot with very limited resources — we didn’t have a membership delivering revenues to fund marketing campaigns or remunerate a team. But we had vision, innovation and passion. Turns out, that’s all we needed.
KB: It’s been such a whirlwind and the response from across the global industry to our outputs has really reinforced our raison d’être. We’ve been able to deliver an authentic voice for women on several important issues including the gender pay gap, diversity in diamond marketing and even new masculinity. It’s been an enlightening and at times challenging experience for us all. But it’s rewarding to open these conversations and also provide applicable insights from beyond our industry to benefit the entire trade. We’re incredibly grateful to those who have joined us for the journey so far.
NP: From a standing start with zero followers, we’ve developed a following of more than 4,000 people across social media channels and our mailing list. We’ve also each been identified and recognised as positive influencers within our respected areas of expertise. We’ve been able to leverage this in national and international publications, spreading the WJN mission, vision and values to a much wider audience than we ever imagined. Saying the previously ‘unsaid’ has what got us to where we are now. Our followers identify with us; they see and hear themselves through our lens, our authentic voice and tone. It’s not a case of convincing people of our conviction; we’re simply vocalising the messages that women across the trade have been discussing for years.
So, what next for the WJN?
VM: We’re building a movement. We announced 45 global ambassadors in 2019 and we’ve just appointed four founding male advocates — you can read more about them in this issue. This latest tranche of appointments is important, as we wanted to ensure we have diversity and balance, and the addition of male voices is critical to achieving this. We’re also diversifying our product and services in the coming months, with the recent launch of WJN membership just the beginning. We also plan to lean heavily into our ambassador network to reinforce our global aspirations and will continue to extend our network internationally. The first part of our journey has been about creating a solid foundation; now we are ready to engage and empower others in the trade to work with us to deliver our mission: to positively champion women and the issues that are important to them, for the benefit of the jewellery trade, in partnership with relevant trade organisations, bodies and businesses.
KB: In this issue, you’ll also find primary results from our first-ever survey into gender equality across the jewellery industry. These results will help to inform new directions and focus for the WJN, ensuring that our work remains meaningful and relevant. With that in mind, it’s great to see the National Association of Jewellers undertake their own survey to understand the voice and expectations of consumers. We see our survey as complementary data, and it will be interesting to see where the commonalities lie and where these important insights can positively impact the future of our sector.
NP: We’ve set ourselves some ambitious values to deliver true change across the global jewellery sector. Equality for all, empowerment, excellence and evolution drive everything that we communicate to our followers and future members. These guiding principles are more than buzzwords for the team; we are constantly seeking ways to create challenge for the betterment of all within the global jewellery trade. So, you’ll see us continue to tackle challenging topics; we’ve never shied away from the difficult conversations and we’re not about to start now.