IDE holds first-ever conference on advancing women in diamond trade
The majority of the female members of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) took part in a first-ever conference aimed at advancing the status of female members of the bourse. The IDE counts a total of 3,200 members, some 250 of whom are women. At the conference, held in late June, participants heard presentations by Varda Shine, senior vice-president of the De Beers Group; Vered Peer Swaid, head of the Authority for the Advancement of Women in Israel; and diamantaires Orit Zikri and Nurit Rotman.
„This conference will go down as a milestone in the history of the diamond bourse,“ said IDE president Yair Sahar, who initiated the meeting that was held to hear the views of women and their work experience and to establish a forum that will suggest ways forward. Sahar dedicated his initial short remarks to his mother, a housewife who, while raising four children, was forced overnight – due to the illness of his father – to take on the role the main breadwinner.
Organized by bourse member Miriam Reuven, the exchange’s deputy general manager Irit Ben-Shachar and her assistant Hila Cohen Yashar, the event was moderated by IDE general manager Moti Besser.
Sahar said: „There are amazing women at the exchange doing business worth millions of dollars but they are still not involved in public service. I therefore call on these members to express their potential and abilities and platy their part in public service. There is no reason why women they should not lead and serve as bourse president or deputy president.“
Introducing the first speaker, he told participants about a 22-year-old woman who came to check his business when he was starting out as a diamantaire. „That woman – Varda Shine – broke through the glass ceiling and today is a senior vice-president of De Beers,“ Sahar noted.
Shine said that when she began working in the diamond industry 30 years ago it was dominated by men. Today, though, women occupy leading positions and bring their uniqueness to the industry as well as their ability to look differently at the business world. „There is no reason to try and act like men. Men are better at being men than we are. We need to be different,“ she said, as she encouraged women to set out their paths and make their aims a reality.
The head of the Authority for the Advancement of Women in Israel, Vered Peer Swaid, who is the daughter of a diamantaire from Netanya, spoke about the issues that keep women from getting ahead. She pointed out, for instance, that while in Israel 50 percent of all students completing a doctorate are women, only 11 percent become associate or full professors. She also spoke about the salary gaps between men and women in the public sector and said that this disparity had not been resolved, also not in recent years.
„In school, they teach us important things but not about relationships or parenting. Women fall victim to romance without understanding a thing about equality or about planning a career,“ she said, ending her comments by calling on women to do their part in bringing about change in this modern era. She consequently agreed to Moti Besser’s request that she accompany the process of advancing women at the diamond exchange.
Meanwhile, IDE member Orit Zikri said that when the market is declining, women are the first to suffer from the impact since many diamantaires prefer in those situations to give goods for sale rather to male than to female brokers, believing that women are the secondary breadwinners in their families. She called on her counterparts not to capitulate to the external factors that restrain them. „Dear friends – let us release ourselves from fear and head forward.“
Diamantaire Nurit Rotman, who is a regular columnist in HaYahalom magazine, suggested that women become active and search for ways to advance themselves professionally. „Nobody advances if they just sit in the corner of the room and no-one gets ahead if they think they don’t deserve it.“
Advancement of women aims to empower them not lead to conflict. She suggested to all the women in attendance to take part in the US & International Diamond Week in August. „Let’s take the initiative and not sit in the doorway or in a corner,“ she said.
In conclusion, Moti Besser invited the women to join an IDE Steering Committee that will discuss and set out courses of action for the advancement of women at the exchange.
– Almor Ya’akov –