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#MeToo

#metoo

#MeToo

By now you would have to be living under a rock if you weren’t aware of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the famous hashtag which continues to gain traction. Hollywood has gotten the attention of what permeates several workplaces even to this day. It ran rampant, as many women will attest to (including me) when I began my career 40 years ago. All one has to do is watch one episode of Mad Men to understand what women had to deal with in the advertising and media world. It is also important to note that it is not just women who have been faced with harassment, but men who have faced this level of objectivity too.

In the first few years of Fruchtman Marketing’s existence, I have faced everything from a large client directly asking me to sleep with him over a client lunch, to another large client telling me he’s “Jewing me down”. Another large corporate client asked for a “private meeting” with our 25-year-old designer to discuss his corporate brochure layout. Only to blatantly ask her for sex and remind her without complying, she would be responsible for losing the company his account. This gentleman was a “respected” member of our local Jewish community, who our family knew very well. Imagine that chutzpah? And, worse yet, the owner of the largest media company (at its time) in Toledo also told me in front of his COO, that he felt it “difficult to work with strong Jewish women” and because of that, it might be best we don’t continue working together. I kid you not. His COO called me thirty minutes after I left to ask me not to file a lawsuit. Suffice to say, we resigned all of three of the accounts mentioned and the last we lost because I was a Jewish woman. Discrimination in the workplace is equally unacceptable.

Sadly, the jewelry industry cannot lay claim to its innocence. We’re all well-aware of the sexual harassment class-action case filed in 2008 against Sterling (with declarations from roughly 250 women), currently in arbitration with the hearing slated for early 2018. Whether Sterling is guilty or not of these practices remains to be seen. And, in this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. But, we all also know how prevalent this is in companies across the country. We also know where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

What we are all witnessing is a female movement the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was burning my bra. It’s the type of marketing campaign that is taking viral to a new level. The jewelry industry, which by and large is targeted to women, has an opportunity to do something big. To stand up as a community and support the effort. To raise dollars for assault and harassment victims.

Time to turn #MeToo into #NotOnMyWatch

Comment: 1

  • Eric Phillips
    October 30, 2017 12:44 pm

    Whether we hope to put a stop to debauchery, deceptive selling practices, or other unethical behavior in our industry, we need to differentiate between offenders who totally lack conscience (such as Macy’s selling glass / corundum composite as ruby) and those who exhibit equally egregious behavior, but really don’t see themselves as being in the wrong. The former will change behavior only when it places them at unacceptable risk of negative consequences. The latter will usually make corrections willingly if they are shown that they are in the wrong without being made to feel like they are being attacked.

    As an example, in the mid ‘80’s I was running leased jewelry operations in a major elite department store chain when a female department manager called me for help. A gay man on her payroll insisted on making her and the other women in her department uncomfortable by giving them a detailed accounting of his interactions with his partner whenever they had had a day off together. She had tried to address the problem with him without success, so I came out to her store when “Tom” was working, and invited him to join me for a private conversation. After some small talk, I told him that graphic descriptions at work of his personal relationships were going to stop immediately. His response was to tell me that he would not continue the conversation without his lawyer being present. Rather than backing down, I said: “Tom, you disappoint me. As a leader in the gay community you should be the first one to support what I’m saying. You know damn well that gays and lesbians are the most commonly harressed employees in the workplace, and I am saying that no employee should ever be made uncomfortable by conversations or comments that have nothing to do with work.” After a silence that seemed to go on forever, he replied: “I’m really sorry. It will never happen again.” While this may seem overly dramatic, it really happened.

    Some years later I went on a rant at a Mn. Jwlrs” Assn. board meeting about the self contradictory nature of advertising “wholesale” to the public. A fellow board member went home after the meeting and picked up a newsletter from her synagogue, containing just such an ad. She immediately called her rabbi to compliance. About a half hour later her phone rang. Fearing the worst, she answered, holding the phone at arm’s length. In stead of screaming at her, the jeweler who had placed the ad asked for her help in changing not only his ad in the newsletter, but all of his ads to say what he really meant in an ethical way.

    Yes, we have some bad apples in our industry, who truly seem to lack conscience; but I have found far more good people than bad. When we observe unacceptable behavior in our industry, let’s not assume malevolent intent without first confronting the offender directly and personally. Explain privately what is wrong, why it is wrong, and (if asked) how to correct the problem, without shaming. If this fails, then we may need to re-evaluate.

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