We’re pleased to report that a survey has chosen one of our main diamond suppliers, the Diavik diamond mine, as one of Canada’s top 100 employers. This is the second year in a row that the mine has received this distinction.
Brilliant Earth has always prided itself on sourcing diamonds from mines that meet the highest labor and environmental standards. When we first launched Brilliant Earth in 2005, we carefully evaluated labor and environmental standards at diamond mines around the world and concluded that the Diavik diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories (as well as another Canadian mine, the Ekati diamond mine) does an excellent job of treating workers fairly and minimizing environmental impact.
This latest survey confirms that the Diavik diamond mine values and respects its employees not just in comparison with other diamond mines, but in comparison with companies in the overall economy. More than 15,000 employers in Canada were invited to participate in the survey, which was conducted by Medicorp, a Canadian media company. The results were published recently in the Globe and Mail, a leading Canadian newspaper.
The survey rigorously judged the companies on eight criteria: physical workplace, work atmosphere, compensation and benefits, vacation time, feedback on employee performance, training and skills development, and community involvement.
Using these criteria as a guide, the survey highlighted many of the reasons why, for the second year in a row, it selected the mine as a top 100 employer. The mine offers very good salaries and benefits, gives tuition subsidies to pay for training and education programs, and arranges or offers discounts on products including airline tickets and diamonds. To build camaraderie within the company, a social committee organizes fundraisers such as a summer golf tournament and a winter dog derby.
The survey also noted that the mine is a very unique place to work, rating its physical workplace as “exceptional.” Because the mine is located just south of the Arctic Circle, employees commute to the mine by airplane. They usually work in rotations, spending two weeks at the mine then two weeks away. (An ice road only passable during the winter provides supplies.) While at the mine site, employees receive free meals and get access to a fully-equipped gym. The gym includes a basketball court, a video golf driving range, a sauna, and even a nap room.
One of the most outstanding features of the mine is its outreach to the local community and the people of Yellowknife, the nearest town. Whereas many mining companies provide barely any benefit to local communities or even harm them, the Diavik diamond mine makes an effort to employ local community members. In 2010, more than 60 percent of the workforce came from northern Canada and about 30 percent was Aboriginal. The mine also runs a special program that provides job training to people of Aboriginal descent to give them access to better jobs.
Although this survey evaluated the mine as an employer, we should point out that it has a strong environmental track record as well. No mining process can completely avoid affecting the environment, but the Diavik diamond mine does an excellent job of minimizing its environmental footprint.
For instance, because the mine sits on the shores of Lac de Gras, a shallow lake that is home to numerous fish and migratory bird species, the mine monitors its effect on water quality. The mine strives to reduce it impact on local caribou herds, and it is conducting environmental remediation during the life of the mine rather than waiting until closure. The mine also complies with Canada’s environmental laws, some of the strictest in the world.
At Brilliant Earth, we’re dedicated to raising awareness about the worst labor and environmental abuses in diamond mining – ranging from violence to child labor. But we think it’s also important to give credit when a diamond mine operates in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The Diavik diamond mine definitely does so, and we are proud to count it as one of our suppliers.