The Responsible Jewellery Council: assessing its future and sometimes-problematic present

Rob Bates

The Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) is, to say the least, in flux. Its longtime CEO left in November 2013, and his replacement lasted barely a year. In addition, many mainstays of the group, such as standards director Fiona Solomon, have left as well. (Others, such as chief operating officer Catherine Sproule, remain.)

Current chairman James Courage is also leaving; he plans to step down at the end of the month, now that he is no longer with Platinum Guild. In this frank and sometimes contentious (if always polite) conversation, Courage discusses some of the controversies surrounding his group, and what he sees for its future.

JCK: Why are you now looking for an executive director as opposed to a CEO, as before? 

James Courage: We are a member-driven organization. So really, the executive director needs to take on the polices of the RJC according to the members. A CEO tends to imply that someone is going out in a leadership role.

You have a lot of rebuilding to do.

We see this as an opportunity. We we are looking for more interaction with the industry, with the OECD, with civil society. Part of what we are about is getting better known for what we do.

Some people have found the certification process too onerous. Do you agree?

No. If you follow the laws of most Western markets and most developing markets, you are pretty much there. The challenge that we have is to make it more user friendly, to provide more guidance. For smaller companies, who never have the time to do anything, it all looks a little forbidding. It looks thick, but when you discard the parts that you don’t have to fill in because you are not part of that supply chain, the process is not that onerous.

We do give people the opportunity to interact with the management office to get guidance. The auditing process—there is a cost attached to that. The actual membership cost is pretty light. But people conflate those things.

It’s something that we need to work harder on, because that’s the perception.

Has anyone ever lost their RJC membership because of not fulfilling the audits?

No one has been dropped. There haven’t been any post–ad hoc incidents.

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Source JCK Online