About a year ago, I was doing some soul-searching and knew it was time to make a career move.
I have a passion for social impact and human rights, and it had become clear to me that finding a true mission-driven organization that built a business around making a difference in the world was essential. I was fortunate to find a home as Brilliant Earth’s Director of Responsible Sourcing (I LOVE jewelry – so that was the icing on the cake!).
Brilliant Earth is a mission-driven company focused on providing jewelry that has been carefully and ethically sourced. One of the things that excites me is our holistic approach to Corporate Social Responsibility, which includes building a brighter future in mining communities and the communities in which we live and operate by focusing on improving human rights and environmental practices. Each year, Brilliant Earth donates 5% of net profits to non-profit organizations that share our values.
While we support a variety of giving back initiatives throughout the year, one specific effort that I am passionate about is supporting the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (“CNRG”) as they work to monitor mines, report abuses, and advocate for local communities in Zimbabwe. CNRG operates in Zimbabwe with a mission to empower and defend the rights of communities affected by mining and to promote responsible sourcing of minerals. They are the most vocal Zimbabwean civil society organization defending human rights in the mining sector.
Zimbabwe is a country in southern Africa that, despite being rich in natural resources such as gold, platinum, diamonds and other metals and minerals, has spiraled into economic ruin over the past several decades. Today, the country is suffering from severe socioeconomic declines, including a lack of food, water, power and foreign currency. Citizens of Zimbabwe are forced to go to extreme measures just to survive, including trying to mine diamonds on government controlled land. As a result, the government incites and initiates human rights abuses, including torture and murder, against these miners.
Funding from Brilliant Earth to CNRG has been allocated to efforts specifically in the Marange community, which has been effectively cut off from the rest of Zimbabwe. Because Marange is rich in diamonds, the government does not allow the Marange residents to leave the community and it does not allow visitors. The Marange communal lands have been declared a ‘protected area’ under the Protected Places and Areas Act Chapter 11:12 of Zimbabwe. This has allowed the continued use of torture and killings against artisanal miners and community members to proceed unchecked.
CNRG utilizes the funds donated by Brilliant Earth to make a positive social impact in Marange through several efforts, with two of the most impactful being Human Rights Education and Assisting Victims of Abuse to get treatment.
- Human Rights Education: Last year, CNRG conducted five human rights workshops in ten villages. The workshops were well attended, with each having an average of 70 participants, the majority of whom were women. They focused on empowering the communities with legal knowledge and their rights, including the rights to life, human dignity, equality and non-discrimination and to administrative justice. These workshops resulted in citizens seeking legal help to fight forced and unfair relocation by mining companies.
- Victim’s Assistance: The abuse that takes place in villages such as Marange is extensive, including beating, torturing and attacking victims with vicious dogs. Victims of these abuses are often left without the ability for medical help, which often results in death. CNRG utilized funds to obtain medical care for the victims.
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe diamonds still enter the global supply given they are certified as “conflict free” by the Kimberley Process. Brilliant Earth does not source diamonds from Zimbabwe given the ongoing human rights abuses. As the Director of Responsible Sourcing, a large part of my job is focused on ensuring that we have an ethical supply chain, but it also includes making a positive social impact and helping to open doors for new responsible sources in the future. We are passionate about improving mining conditions, with the hope that diamonds from all countries can eventually be a force for good.