Pandora necklace

Francesca Contardo, eCommerce Director for Pandora UK and Ireland

To mark International Women’s Day 2022 (March 8) earlier this week, Professional Jeweler caught up with three of the industry’s most inspiring female leaders.

Here is our interview with one of them: Francesca Contardo, e-commerce director for Pandora UK and Ireland.

What does IWD 2o22 mean to you?
There are still doors that need to be opened for women in the future, especially when we look at the current representation of women versus men in leadership roles.

Alarmingly, the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Gender Gap Report shows that at the current rate of progress, women will have to wait around 135 years to close the global gender gap with men. It’s not fast enough.

I see JIF as a catalyst for keeping dialogue open, for fostering collective action, and for promoting shared ownership of gender parity – all of which are significant ways to accelerate progress. It’s always energizing to see the collective need for change.

What is Pandora doing to improve women’s rights and equality?
As the world’s largest jewelry brand with millions of customers – mostly women – who trust our products every day, we have a fantastic opportunity to drive positive change. Everything we do, from our jewelry designs to the initiatives we support and our workplace practices, applies this lens.

Examples include our partnership with UNICEF which empowers young people through programs on education, gender equality and rights awareness, among others. This year we are also a sponsor of the upcoming UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament, another opportunity for us to support women’s empowerment and equality.

We have set new targets for gender distribution in senior management with the aim of reaching 1/3 women in leadership by 2025 and reaching gender parity no later than 2030.

We also have Responsible Marketing Standards in place which outline the fundamentals of communicating with customers to ensure we are inclusive, responsible and empowering. As part of this, we have also committed to directing 30% of the branded content budget to producers belonging to women or underrepresented groups.

Can you name one or two women you admire in the business world?
There are so many women I look up to, it’s hard to choose just one. There are, however, a few common attributes of women that come to mind: the courage to dream big, the willingness to challenge and influence change, and the art of finding a balance between thriving professionally while giving priority to life outside of work.

Over time, I’ve also learned from the people I’ve worked with that it’s important to define and set goals that are unique to you.

As women, we often have expectations that are imposed on us or on ourselves, but I think success is very individual.

Women should feel empowered to choose career paths that satisfy them as individuals. It doesn’t always mean reaching the top.

What is one thing you would like to see addressed in 2022 regarding women’s rights and experience in the workplace?
Research has shown that women – especially from underrepresented backgrounds – have been the most economically and socially affected by the pandemic.

As a result, there is a real risk that the great progress that has been made in recent years around gender parity will slow down. This year, I would like to see the return of a sense of urgency to break down barriers for women.

How will you mark the JIF this year?
IWD is going to be about unity, celebration and reflection for all of us at Pandora this year.

We have interactive activities planned globally and regionally to help bring this day and its sentiments to life. Personally, I will use the annual celebration to admire the incredible women around me and marvel at how far I have come!

Find the rest of the PJ IWD 2022 interviews here.