Industries need representation for the following reasons;
- When the business world intersects with governments, in terms of assets, like mining or geopolitical agreements like the Kimberly Process, the industry needs to provide guidance to governments to ensure that both the interests of the local industry and the country are protected. Furthermore, issues such as import and export duties, and tax rates applicable to those goods in terms of goods and services, often need to be seen in terms of what other countries are doing so as not to disadvantage the local industry, which could have a flow on effect for governments collecting revenues. In other cases, the actual business tax formulas may need to be adjusted, which was the case recently in Israel, and the only chance a industry has in deriving a successful solution is when it has a single entity speaking on its behalf.
- Public opinion changes overtime. An industry body is at times required on a local level and other times on an international level. Often it needs to react to protect its reputation, as we saw in the case of the Blood Diamond story. There are ecological issues and without a unified representation there could be serious reputational ramifications that could result in irreversible damage if not responded to in the correct manner. A good example is the livestock industry in Australia. Millions of live cattle and sheep were sent to Indonesia, as a predominantly Muslim country they only wanted fresh meat. In Indonesia, the abattoir where they were slaughtered were filmed by animal activists which showed horrific conditions, both in their holding yards and inhumane methods of killing. The result was Billions of dollars of lost revenue to Australia and a number of established business bankrupted, it took over two years to restore the agreements, but the damage was done.
- Self-regulation. Industries have their own way of doing things and this often needs to be explained to the outside world. There are often commercially sensitive issues that could be difficult for a local court to understand. The general business world has difficulty understanding that merchandise can be sent to another country for millions of dollars and returned a month later with no penalty and the same method repeated on a ongoing basis, and this is perfectly acceptable. This is also a good example of why law enforcement agencies mistrust the diamond industry and have extended those fears to the banking industry. The WFDB has its own arbitration which stretches world wide to deal with both financial and other issues which occur between members and is one of its pillars of success. The strength of this system is such, that the law courts in the large diamond trading centres of Antwerp, India and Israel and to varying degrees other countries, would rely on the opinions and judgement of these internal courts should decisions be challenged by the local countries legal system.
- Promotion and marketing. When an industry wields enormous power, it can have at times ridiculous influence as we see time and time again with the gun lobby in America. When an industry understands that its in everyone’s interest to get it right we see massive social change and whether its Greenpeace saving our oceans and forests or the fishing industries in different countries looking to find ways to create sustainable methods which reflects in their message to the consumer. It is common sense that there is a far better result when promotions are coordinates by one or multiple bodies with common or at least aligned messages. DeBeers used to play this role, the WFDB through the World Diamond Mark showed the need to carry the baton, and now we are seeing the Diamond Producers association recognising the crucial need to raise the profile of diamonds in the luxury segment.
The purpose of the Young Diamantaires is to stimulate a conversation worldwide with as large a group as possible in the under 45-year-old age bracket. Only through discussion, can we understand these generations fears and concerns about what is currently happening in the diamond world. Providing a forum, they can question what and how should our industry look and feel into the future. The ability to hear conversations from a dozen different countries ongoing, whether one verbalises a comment or not, will shape the thoughts of the active and passive participant. No doubt participating in a physical meeting and sharing ideas enables those who do, to shape the focus of the conversation and give them the advantage of having first had knowledge of where things are headed.
The overall aim is to prepare the next generation to participate in this process and see how they can influence the future of their industry which provides them and their families their livelihood.
Change happens so fast that we cannot afford to be stumbling along hoping someone will get it right and that we will have the best future leaders. Like all good businesses, we need have a model of succession in place. The WFDB recognised this and hence formed the Young Diamantaires providing the platform for this to happen.