As Valentine’s Day is upon us, I’ve been contemplating on what type of item or object to blog about. Seeing as chocolate was covered (and made me have such a craving), I thought of what else is related to this special holiday, being chocolate and jewelry of course. My boyfriend came up to visit and celebrate Valentine’s Day. Luckily, I received a present early that’s given me inspiration to search more information on a popular jeweler: Zales.
My first stop for information was their website. In browsing around, great detail is given on the various facets of diamonds: clarity, cut, science, myth, carats, etc. The one that caught my eye (no pun intended) was what are called conflict diamonds. I’ve never heard this term used before. The term I have heard of, which I feel is possibly more common, is blood diamonds. I’m sure some of us in class have seen the film Blood Diamond. Conflict diamonds in short are diamonds that come out of conflict zones. The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as “…diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.”
An agreement between the United Nations, European Union, approximately 75 countries, the World Diamond Council and a number of interest groups, was formed to combat this issue. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was the result of the process to ensure “conflict-free” diamonds. Zales outlines their conflict diamonds policy within their website: “We take the issue of conflict diamonds very seriously.” Information is provided regarding role of governments, of industry, of the retailer, and frequently asked questions. However, Zales failed to respond when asked to participate in a survey on conflict diamond policies. This raised questions to how retailers felt about the seriousness of the matter and keeping them out of their supply chain.
Switching gears, I found a rather disturbing article regarding a Zales former employee. This former saleswoman was extremely successful for Zales: first in her area to earn a million dollars in sales in one year. She requested time off to have surgery for a life-threatening aortic aneurysm. What is said to had happened is she wrote a letter to HR, attended a meeting on the subject of her leave of absence, and was terminated on the spot. The code of ethics was clearly not exercised here. Apparently after this occurred, Zales was slow on the paperwork this former saleswoman needed for applying for COBRA coverage. This caused her to have to postpone her surgery. Emails were exchanged between her son and a representative within Zales, his response being that since the schedule was rescheduled then it probably wasn’t a life-or-death situation. For me, this is one of those situations that is too absurd to believe, especially when looking at an excerpt from their Code of Conduct:
Common sense test:
Take a Common Sense Test
A good test for judging the employee’s conduct under Zale’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics is: If you would be embarrassed for your supervisor or co-workers to read about your conduct on the front page of tomorrow morning’s newspaper or if the conduct is potentially harmful to the company … Don’t Do It.
Related article: http://www.un.org/peace/africa/Diamond.html