Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Sapphire Crystal Ceiling

So over the past few months here in the US there has been much debate about what is commonly known as the glass ceiling.  That invisible, yet very real barrier that prevents women and those not noticeably white from advancing in business, politics and pretty much any other endeavor.  This is a blog with one very simple editorial rule, a post must be written in between the time I have the coffee made to the time I have to head out the door to go teach.  So needless to say, the glass ceiling is not a topic that I can even attempt to broach in this limited space.

But in the watch industry there is another, very real barrier that I have decided to call the sapphire crystal ceiling.  Think I'm full of it?

Then riddle me this - how many CEOs of the major Swiss brands are female?  And any major watch players who have skin that might be considered a shade darker that Southern European?  Women, as we all know, tend to make up the Public Relations, Communications and in VERY rare situations might be in Marketing.  In fairness, that is a stereotype.  But as we know most stereotypes are based in some prior reality.  Aletta Stas-Bax of Frederique Constant/Alpina remains a very welcome presence as a member of the senior management team.  Sadly, she is a rare example.  With Fiona Kruger hanging out her shingle, we will hopefully see more and more women get involved at more significant levels.  And here is a wild suggestion to the old white boys - take the time to talk to the women in your team and force yourself to imagine that maybe, just maybe they might be as good, and in some instances even better than the men you so frequently, typically, and foolishly defer to.  I realize that if her last name is Hayek you don't really have a choice, but try to imagine that a woman might just actually know just as much, if not more than the 25 year old snot-nose you just dispatched to the US to "complete his training".

And what of color?
Well, it would seem to be a paler shade of white.  Now in fairness, there are some Swiss companies that have been purchased in part or in whole by Asian investors.  And in those situations you will see non-white (Chinese) senior management.  But apart from that, I would defy you to point to any significant representation of people of color other than people in advertisements or the paid brand ambassadors.  I have visited three major watch brands HQs and, sorry, it is a "white out".  HR offices can actually do the wild and crazy thing and try to find under represented groups.  And moreover, there's a wonderful training program being offered by Tourneau that is training young, at risk youth (many of them who are not exactly white), and this would be a PERFECT recruitment source for you!  The talent is out there, you just might have to try a little harder.  You certainly have the resources ; )

So Swiss and German and Japanese brands - get your heads out of your asses, it's 2016!

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