Watches mark time, time celebrates winners.
The luxury industry, together with fashion and art, has always been in the front row when talking about big social changes. An ecosystem of companies –that maybe today it would be reductive call it that way- able to drive consumer purchases with the goal of generating a social impact, either positive or negative.
These are hot topics especially for the GEN Z, generation in the sights of luxury brands, which have clearly understood how important it is to conquer the loyalty of these consumers in order to get their attention and, consequently, their favor. We talked about it with Franziska Gsell, Chief Marketing Officer of IWC, the high-end Swiss watch brand:
I genuinely believe watches can shape the world for a better future. A mechanical timepiece is inherently sustainable as long as it is made responsibly. Here at IWC we take sustainability very seriously.
IWC has always been at the forefront when we talk about sustainability. In the 2020 Sustainability Report, ambitious goals were set one year in advance, and many of them have been already reached. Can you please give us a preview?
We are all proud of being at the forefront of managing our social and environmental impacts positively and responsibly. Our long-held pledge to create “a sustainable product, responsibly” is central to all we do. We use our biennial sustainability reports to set ambitious goals representing a transparent and strategic roadmap for the brand’s sustainability journey. Just a year after our latest report, and a year before we reach our self-imposed deadline to achieve the eight goals we have set, we are pleased with our progress. We already purchase 100% renewable energy globally and have also made great strides towards delivering on many other goals. For example, in February 2021, we received Chain of Custody (CoC) certification from the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), which certifies the gold and platinum used in our supply chain are fully traceable and responsibly sourced. Talking about social goals, after being awarded certification for the first time in 2019, we are pleased to share we have just been re-certified as a Great Place to Work™, which includes an external audit and employee survey. IWC is also in the process of achieving Equal Salary Certification.
All employees performing equal work already have equal salary. Still, IWC is working towards being certified to draw attention to this important topic, and we are confident we can achieve it. Our final sustainability target for 2022 is the one outstanding aim we have from 2020, which is to double the share of women in management positions. To identify why this target was missed, data on internal moves is being collected, to learn what percentage of women applied for senior roles and how they moved through the hiring process.
Gender equality, women empowerment and diversity are really “hot” topics for GEN Z. In your sustainability goals those one are at the top of the pyramid. What is the state of the art and how do you envision the watch industry in 2050?
These topics are essential to IWC’s sustainability journey too.
We want all our employees to have an equal chance to thrive, and we work tirelessly to build a workplace culture of trust and respectfulness. As well as addressing the question of female representation by continuing to push our aim to double the share of women in management positions and promoting peer networking and better work/life balance, we have created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) awareness & education program to bring a fresh new outlook, along dimensions of gender, equity, culture & ethnicity, generations & mindsets, LGBTIA+ and mental & physical ability.
We have established an international DE&I Council to direct and guide the company through the different aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion.
It represents the diversity of IWC´s workforce and acts as a sounding board providing guidance and validation on DE&I initiatives. It also recommends actions on concerns brought forth in our organization. It´s the ear and the voice of the IWC family. As a result, IWC has already placed a strong focus on representation and inclusion as part of its annual IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award with the British Film Institute (BFI).
In 2021, for the first time, all films applying for the award will have to meet the BFI Diversity Standards to support underrepresented filmmakers and raise awareness to drive more significant inclusion in the film industry.
The watch industry as a whole – and IWC Schaffhausen in particular – move with the times. It’s a fundamental prerequisite for our future success, from technology and messaging to principles and methodology.
Over the last ten years, the industry has already altered so much. This pandemic has unequivocally accelerated those changes further. Gen Z really cares deeply about sustainability, gender equality, empowerment and diversity. They believe this should be a credible part of a brand’s identity and constantly inspire us to go further.
So, looking ahead to 2050, who knows what we can achieve as an industry –and closer to home– as a brand? It’s exciting. I do know that we are moving in the right direction, and there are many passionate and inspiring voices driving positive change in this area at IWC.
How can a watch shape the world for a better future?
By repeatedly showing that luxury doesn’t need to be wasteful or excessive, I think as a brand, we have also made a real difference in changing the mentality of the luxury sector as a whole.