“It is essential to increase CSR actions!” Stephan Wolzok, CEO, Rubel & Ménasché

Marianne Riou

Rubel & Ménasché, which has always been concerned with and paid attention to ethical issues, has decided to commit to ever greater actions in the area of corporate social responsibility. Stephan Wolzok, CEO of Rubel & Ménasché, explains to us the importance of actively launching a CSR policy and why it is essential to promote it in the industry and with your partners.

Why do you feel that this is the time to undertake CSR—Corporate Social Responsibility—actions on a larger scale?

It seems to me that today it is an obligation, a moral necessity. We are established in Paris, on rue de la Paix, just next door to our customers in a protected country. Not everybody is so lucky… For me, promoting CSR and ethics is more than just “a few words”. Our acts, our way of life must be as one.

As for ‘why now‘ regarding Rubel & Ménasché, I would say that we are in such control of our business activities that we are now able to look further than the mere well-being of our company. We are not novices with regard to ethics and CSR. But Rubel & Ménasché has achieved a certain level of stability, now it is up to us to go further…

Finally, in the last 3 or 4 years, we have all, in every industry, become collectively aware of the essential nature of corporate social responsibility actions. They are vital!

How does your development in terms of CSR manifest itself?

Beyond the longstanding procedures undertaken by Rubel & Ménasché, such as our membership of the RJC since 2011, our support for the DDI or the DEF or the ethical standards and criteria that we apply and that are the same as those of our rough suppliers, De Beers and ALROSA, we have drafted documents that commit us even more than before: a code of conduct, a document specifying the purchasing conditions for our suppliers, approval between Rubel & Ménasché and its suppliers, charters, etc.

To explain myself: we procure most of our supplies from the Dali Diamond Group, of which we are members. This guarantees our diamonds (as natural) and their source: there are no intermediaries between us and the gem producers. The remainder of our procurement comes from the secondary market: it is for this part of our stock that we wish to implement even more stringent procedures in terms of CSR.

So, if I understand correctly, this commits not just you but also your suppliers?

These documents that we have implemented explain what we want. The strategic and commercial policy of Rubel & Ménasché is clear: we will commit ourselves in some deals but there are some roads that we will not go down.

We do not intend to impose responsible behavior but more to inspire it. I know that, since we obtained out fifth RJC certification in 2011, there has been a major snowball effect in the field of ethics and CSR. Our actions and our decisions have had an impact on our historic partners, who are also now part of the RJC.

To implement CSR actions, you need financial and human resources. This all has a cost! If we are unable to maintain sufficient margins, and therefore prosper, it will be hard to undertake these kinds of actions. This is the stake of also maintaining our margins alongside our commitment! In terms of our relations with our suppliers, we are working on verifying the whole of our supply chain, at every level of CSR. For the moment, the documents that we have sent are recommendations.

Do your customers also have greater requirements in terms of ethics and CSR?

Our customers are asking for a lot more in these areas. This said, for the last 17 years, Rubel & Ménasché has focused its strategy on quality and a top-of-the-range service. We have therefore already raised our own standards of what we require from ourselves. We have been ahead of a more general demand from our customers and the industry, which does not just apply to us…. It had to happen! The major jewelry houses are all industrializing and the supply chain as a whole is more controlled. The diamond industry is taking its inspiration from other industries in this area. “Diamonds” was a family business, but it is undergoing change; particularly with the young people who join companies after having studied abroad. There is less emotion, more energy…

So, in concrete terms, what guarantees can you offer your customers?

We wish to prove that our diamonds are “high quality” in the broadest sense—going further than the intrinsic beauty of the stone and the fact that it is “clean”, i.e. not sourced from conflicts. We get most of our supplies from ALROSA and De Beers, so there is little concern in that regard. Our top-of-the-range service and our knowledge need no longer be demonstrated. Our credo is still continual improvement. After sending these documents to our suppliers—such as the code of conduct that we follow ourselves—the next step would be to conduct external audits, on our suppliers’ premises, in order to check their CSR undertakings.

In which areas of CSR do you think you can still make progress?

We are working on this matter at the level of the Dali Diamond Group. We are brainstorming to reach joint decisions.

Whatever the CSR actions may be, they must have a real impact. We are not here just to make speeches and keep upping the ante. For me, CSR begins with small everyday gestures: remembering to “say thank you at the table”, speaking respectfully to everybody.  It is also a way of living every day…

And more generally in Rubel & Ménasché’s plans?

We intend to ensure that our actions are truly sustainable. We no longer speak about short- or medium-term projects—we have chosen to build for the long term. We wish to develop large-scale projects and create lasting relationships with our partners. We wish to work hand-in-hand with our customers and advise them to help them to move ahead.

To round-up, I would say that there are principles from which Rubel & Ménasché will not waiver, it is written in our DNA! We stand by our commitments.