Need to Hear Voices of Under-Represented Majority: Ali Pastorini

The recently concluded 37th World Diamond Congress, which was attended by approximately 200 delegates with the opportunity to discuss at length the issues affecting the global diamond sector under the themes of ‘Transparency, Responsibility and Sustainability’.

The World Federation of Diamond Bourses’ (WFDB) presidents and bourse members deliberated on a packed agenda at the Congress last week, with a wide range of issues directly affecting their members at the 30 affiliated diamond bourses across the world. On the agenda were the challenges of financing, price lists, synthetics, policy of producers, supply chains and traceability, anti-money laundering, transparency in business and tenders as well as other issues.

Mr. Ernie Blom, who was re-elected as president of the WFDB said, “There was a positive feeling that changes for the betterment of the industry is happening after a difficult past year. The delegates looked very concerned with the present state of the industry and were determined to debate issues comprehensively. This has enabled us to make decisions based on a full airing of the views of our members.”

One of the major achievements of the Congress is creation of an International Young Diamantaires Group. The Group of younger members of diamond firms from the main diamond centres, including Israel, India, Belgium, the United States and South Africa as well as Australia, would communicate on a regular basis. The primary aim of this group is to provide mutual encouragement regarding the challenge of leading the diamond industry into the future, as well as a platform for the discussion of relevant issues for the mutual benefit of members.

Apart from the issues involving Transparency, Responsibility and Sustainability, there is one more issue which Ms. Ali Pastorini, Senior Vice President of Panama Diamond Exchange (PDE) and Vice President of the World Jewellery Hub (WJH) feels to be considered. She emphasizes that the voices of the diamond Industry’s under-represented majority also need to be heard.

“As a young woman attending her first-ever World Diamond Congress it sometimes felt that I had gatecrashed the party. Not only was I considerably younger than most of the other delegates, but I was also only of only six women in the room.”

While arguing to emphasis her point, Ms. Ali says, “Please don’t get me wrong. Knowing the WFDB leaders well, I neither underestimate their knowledge, commitment and integrity, nor do I intend questioning the warmth and respect they have shown me personally. What I mean to say is that the attendance at a World Diamond Congress is not necessarily reflective of the social fabric of our industry and the society, and if the leadership does not hear all the voices, including those who were hardly represented in Dubai Congress, then they are not getting the full benefit of our wisdom.”

“There are shining examples of inclusiveness within our industry. Our host in Dubai, Mr. Ahmed Bin Sulayem, who is also Chairman of the Kimberley Process (KP), is under the age of 40 and holds a senior leadership position. At PDE, both of the vice presidents are women, something of which we are immensely proud. In the year 2016 should there not be a greater younger members and women holding key positions at the diamond exchanges around the globe? After all, we collectively represent a majority of all humanity,” she argues.

“I know that these are tough questions, but only when we face them head one will we be optimally positioned to face the future. Here, I want to emphasize that it was a wonderful opportunity to be part of the 37th World Diamond Congress. I love this industry and will do all that I can to encourage the consumer to buy a diamond or other item of jewelry before purchasing a cell phone, a pair of shoes or a handbag. I certainly will work hard with my colleagues to make it possible,” Ali concludes.

Posted by Suresh Chotai