On January 4th Ethical Corporation (EC) published a soft-ball interview with Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Tiffany & Co’s Chief Sustainability Officer. The article was little more than a thinly disguised promo for the Responsible Business Summit USA 2016 at which Tiffany’s was due to give a presentation.
I posted a comment to the article asking why, given recent disclosures, the interviewer didn’t ask about Tiffany’s links to Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) which funds a Unit of the Israeli military. EC subsequently asked Tiffany’s to comment and posted their reply which was the same cut & paste response Tiffany’s repeatedly posted in response to queries from fans on their Facebook page before Christmas. I responded pointing out the inadequacy of the reply and asking EC if they were satisfied with Tiffany’s response. (see comments at the bottom of the article).
Following my comments on the article a representative of EC contacted me asking for a fully referenced report about the relationship between Tiffany’s and the Israeli military. I sent them my articles pointing out that it would be a travesty if Tiffany’s were allowed to use an ethical umbrella to conceal HR violations in their supply chain.
A few days ago I noticed that Tiffany’s no longer feature in the line-up of speakers for the Responsible Business Summit USA in New York on April 12-13.
I emailed EC to enquire why Tiffany’s were dropped from the line-up and if it had anything to do with their links to BSGR.
They responded saying “Tiffany’s removal from the event was owing to their having other travelling commitments at the time of the summit.” This explanation is difficult to believe given that Tiffany’s participation in the summit was flagged as far back as November 30th , EC tweeted it on December 3rd and Anisa Kamadoli Costa confirmed her attendance in the interview published on January 4th.
A more plausible explanation is that it would be a travesty if Tiffany & Co was allowed to use the platform provided by the Responsible Business Summit USA to masquerade as a leader in sustainable luxury given that Tiffany’s continue to source diamonds form a company which has “adopted” and donates to a Unit of the Israeli military which is guilty of grievous human rights violations.
The relationship between organisations promoting ethics and sustainability in supply chains and leading corporations is a symbiotic one as both need each other to some extent. This can be healthy relationship which drives higher ethical standards or it can be undermine the credibility of both if one is being used by the other as happens in the discredited Kimberley Process where NGOs continue to prop up as system which certifiers diamonds that fund regimes guilty of human rights violations.
While the jewellery industry continues to fund Israeli crimes more and more jewellers can expect to be exposed for laundering diamonds that fund gross human rights violations in Palestine and Africa.