Influential figures from the UK jewellery industry have noticed a shortage of mentoring opportunities for women in the trade.
Whether in the form of female-only networking groups, one-to-one mentoring schemes, of mixed gender organisations to encourage women, the industry as a whole provides more opportunities for men to be empowered.
This issue was highlighted at an exclusive roundtable hosted by Professional Jeweller in London, which was put together to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing women in the industry.
“A lot of men are very keen to find a mentor and they’ll happily talk about it, whereas women don’t,” explains Fabulous managing director, Jo Stroud. “You need someone to help model your career, but also to go to for help.”
Not to put the blame on the industry, the attendees of the roundtable did highlight that women often don’t like to look like they are asking for help.
Swarovski UK managing director, Hayley Quinn, expresses: “The vulnerability is really difficult. And to answer your question, that’s what we can help women do, to help them understand it’s okay to be vulnerable and it’s easier said than done.”
EC One co-founder Alison Skeates comments that for larger companies, mentoring is part of the standard work culture, but it’s not seen as much in the industry. Noticing her own personal need to support, she meets up with an older female friend with a retail experience to discuss her career, challenges and confidence.
“She will tell me all the reasons I can do something and it’s great to have women around who will help you see that,” Skeates explains.
“We need those female networks to really get women together to support each other and to be role modelling,” Stroud adds. “In this industry I haven’t seen that but it’s big in other industries. It still seems a very insular industry doesn’t it? We don’t get the input from big fashion houses or big retailers. Things like John Lewis having a female CEO, that’s great but we’re not seeing those kinds of role models coming into the jewellery industry and doing talks. I don’t think we’re getting our eyes opened to the wider business industry.”
In a separate conversation, Harriet Kelsall told Professional Jeweller that some women don’t feel they need a mentor because they think it’s strictly about business, however it’s also about building confidence and meeting up with inspiring individuals to be empowered by them.
In order to open up the conversation about this, Professional Jeweller will be holding an Empowering Women seminar at International Jewellery London, where pioneering women from the UK trade will be discussing their own stories and ways the industry can support females looking to support the career ladder. This is open for men and women to attend.
The Women’s Jewelry Association UK Chapter will also be on hand at the show to offer advice and career insights to both male and female members of the trade.
The full roundtable discussion will be in the August 2017 edition of Professional Jeweller.