NEW YORK — Nadja Swarovski made sure that guests at Tuesday’s reception for the 2016 United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles left knowing how consumers can do their part to prevent harassment and violence against women and girls. The U.N. Global Compact’s executive director Lise Kingo also spoke about how Swarovski is furthering that cause.
Tuesday’s event in the U.N. Delegates Dining Room was a short walk for attendees who had spent the day at the U.N. Women’s and U.N. Global Impact’s WEP conference. Swarovski, whose family-owned luxury accessories company was started in 1895, noted that more than 70 percent of its 25,000 employees are women. She also brought guests up-to-speed about the limited-edition bracelet the company is selling to support the U.N. Women Safe Cities Global Initiative. Through partnerships with mayors’ offices, national governments, women’s groups and other community partners, the U.N. Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative is now in effect in 20 cities. Atelier Swarovski is donating 30 percent of sales of the $89 item, which is being sold in 200 Swarovski stores.
In her remarks, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the under-secretary general of the United Nations and executive director of U.N. Women, praised Swarovski for demonstrating how the public and private sectors can work together “in a way that helps women.” Making the point that many women are undeniably shoppers, she said they must follow Swarovski’s lead and “shop for a cause.”
Noting that it was only in September that 193 nations accepted the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, Kingo took a moment to thank the German government for all its help with the Global Impact. She also noted how Germany has proposed a wage transparency law so that women can compare their salaries to their male counterparts. Later in the program Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke of a call to action to ensure that men all over the world refuse to sit on panels where women are not represented.
Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary Elke Ferner said gender equality is not only a business opportunity, but “really a must because equal rights are the goal.” She continued, “Women all over the world and increasingly more men are fighting for that goal. Together with businesses like Swarovski, you are doing so many important things and have made it your duty to support the Women’s Empowerment Principles.”
As a member of the U.N.’s Global Compact, Swarovski executives met with the group’s advisers to see what else they might do. “We just feel that money is not the only currency. We asked, ‘What else can Swarovski provide besides a financial contribution?’” Swarovski said after the formal presentation.
Gesturing toward the bracelet she was wearing, Swarovski said, “This is just the decorative element but there is also an intellectual element.
“We’ve opened a treasure chest of what we can do together in the collaborative sense with governmental institutions to have a bigger impact,” she said. “It enables our customers to learn about what the U.N. is doing and the causes. And all of us feel that energy, it contributes to finding a solution and creates an awareness.”
Swarovski added, “This is one of the advantages of being a private company. We can set the tone for ourselves and implement our core values.” Next up is a collaboration between Swarovski and the Bono-led RED initiative, though executives at both companies declined further comment.
Tanya Taylor and Tome’s Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin, who are members of this year’s Swarovski Collective, were in the crowd, as was Ryan Roche, one of last year’s nominees for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear. However, one expected guest, Iris Apfel, missed out — she had an all-day photo shoot.