CEO Gina Drosos On Empowering Women

By Beacon Journal/Ohio.com Akron Beacon Journal

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Gina Drosos is the CEO of Signet Jewelers which has about 3,300 retail stores under multiple brands including Zales and Kay Jewelers. Signet says its board of directors is 45 percent women, its senior executive suite is 50 percent women, and women make up 70 percent of its store management.

Akron Beacon Journal

Signet Jewelers is reviewing its global supply chain to make sure that it respects and empowers women, the Akron retail chain's top executive told a U.S. State Department audience Thursday morning in Washington, D.C.

Gina Drosos, Signet's chief executive officer, gave the keynote address at a State Department conference focusing on women's economic empowerment.

The conference, "Women's Empowerment: Minerals, Responsible Sourcing, and the Jewelry Supply Chain," was aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs. The event was by invitation only and not open to the public. Also speaking was Minasha Singh, assistant secretary for economic and business affairs in the State Department.

Drosos said that Signet, as the world's largest retailer of diamond jewelry, recognizes that customers trust it to ensure that the company's products and services are sourced responsibly and respect human rights.

Signet has about 3,300 retail stores under the brands Zales, Jared, Kay Jewelers, H. Samuel, Piercing Pagoda and others, plus online site JamesAllen.com.

"Our industry must continue to take actions to secure our supply chain and empower women at all levels to meet our customers' expectations and maintain their trust," Drosos said.

Signet has been under legal fire in recent years. The New York Times earlier this year published a lengthy magazine article that detailed sexual harassment and discrimination cases filed by female employees at Signet and its subsidiary, Sterling Jewelers Inc., going back decades.

Signet has disputed the allegations in the lawsuits and said related media coverage has been unfair and needed correcting.

The company noted Thursday that among the things Signet has done or does as part of its responsible sourcing programs and requirements are: file documents with federal regulators documenting its supply chain; updated its sourcing protocol to include colored gemstones such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds as being responsibly sourced; joined or co-founded organizations whose mission is to ensure responsible sourcing of its members and industries.

In addition, Signet said its vice president of corporate affairs, David Bouffard, is chairman of the Responsible Jewelry Council; Signet was one of 14 founding members of the council in 2005.

Signet said it also has been recognized by SIGWATCH, a UK tracking company, as being one of the five most-praised companies in the world, and has been recognized by Bloomberg's Gender-Equity Index for commitment to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women's equality.

Signet said its board of directors is 45 percent women, its senior executive suite is 50 percent women, and women make up 70 percent of its store management.

Signet's comprehensive review of its global supplier chain is to catalog and audit its existing supplier relationships, the company said in a news release.

"We see this program as the first step in developing a more fulsome supplier diversity strategy that builds on two of our key corporate social responsibility areas, 'People' and 'Responsible Sourcing'," Drosos said. "We take the opportunity very seriously to make lasting and positive change within the industry, and for all the participants in our supply chain." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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