By Michelle Graff
New York—The Women’s Jewelry Association just released the results of its first Gender Equality Survey, a survey it fielded last fall to gauge the prevalence of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and pay disparity in the jewelry industry.

Nearly 600 people, a mix of employees and owners, took the survey, which was conducted anonymously. Women comprised the majority of respondents, 91 percent of employees and 66 percent of owners.

Overall, the survey shows there is a gap between what goes on at companies and what gets reported to higher-ups. In many cases, employees are reticent to report incidences because they fear retaliation or have a negative impact on their standing in the company.

A total of 16 percent of employees who took the survey report they have been the target of unwanted sexual advances, but only 3 percent of owners said they’ve received complaints about such advances at their companies.

Twenty-three percent of employees have experienced sexual harassment, but only 5 percent of owners reported receiving harassment complaints.

Thirty percent said they’ve been denied equal opportunity for advancement, but, again, only 2 percent of owners said they’ve heard about it.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents—all female—said they have been affected by pay disparity but only 2 percent of owners said they’ve received complaints about unequal pay.

And half of all survey-takers reported having experienced a hostile work environment, defined in the survey as “conditions created by the gendered conduct of a boss, co-workers or others that unreasonably interfere with work performance or are intimidating or offensive.”

Thirty-nine percent said the hostile environment “affected [them] deeply,” but only 9 percent of owners said they’ve received complaints along those lines.

The survey also showed that in smaller companies (15 fewer employees or fewer), a significant percentage of employees and owners either don’t know what the company’s written policies are pertaining to discrimination, sexual harassment and gender equality, or, they reported, the company doesn’t have any.

A total of 52 percent of survey-takers who work for or own a company that has between one and five employees say they don’t know what the company’s gender-related policies are. And 44 percent of owners and 35 percent of employees in this group said their company doesn’t have a written policy.

Survey-takers who work for larger companies seem to have a better grasp on written policies involving harassment and discrimination, the survey shows.

Eighty-four percent of respondents at companies with 301 to 1,000 employees and 92 percent at companies with 1,000-plus employees said they know what their companies’ policies are.

WJA deployed it first Gender Equality Survey worldwide and 586 people—240 employees and 346 owners/executives/board members/major shareholders—responded, 98 percent of whom were in the United States.

Here are some more facts about the survey-takers:
— More owners than employees responded, 59 percent versus 41 percent;
— A total of 70 percent of owners and 62 percent of employees have been in the industry for more than 10 years;
— Many are age 50 or older, including 69 percent of owners and 42 percent of employees;
— Seventy percent own small companies (15 or fewer workers); and
— Most worked it the retail end of the business.

WJA conducted the survey as a way to help the organization understand the most pressing gender-related issues in the jewelry industry and create programming around them.

Looking at the results of its first gender survey, WJA said it would provide training on negotiation and self-advocacy skills for employees who say they have been affected by pay disparity and/or denied equal opportunity for advancement, and offer bystander training, which involves teaching witnesses how to recognize, intervene and help victims of discrimination and harassment to report and seek support.

The organization also said it will be increasing the amount of training and materials it provides on gender-related workplace policies, particularly to the owners and employees of small businesses.

The training and materials will come in addition to the seminars WJA already has done at trade events and the online webinar on gender discrimination laws and regulations done in partnership with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

The full PDF of the WJA’s Gender Equality Survey can be seen here.

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