An evaluation of the mission, vision and values statement of de beers consolidated mines (dbcm) company

An evaluation of the mission, vision and values statement of de beers consolidated mines (dbcm) company.

 

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COMPANY OVERVIEW

De Beers started its diamond excavation in South Africa as early as 1870 in the riverbeds of Orange County (Tappan, Eva cited in Hallsal, Paul 1998). De Beers was a company of dominantly British stockholders as South Africa was then a British colony3. The old De Beers was just then one of the four major players in the industry with Kimberly, Bultfontein and Dutoit’s Pan3. Later in 1889, these players were consolidated as De Beers Consolidated Mines Company after owning the three companies and three-quarters of Dutoit’s Pan (Tappan in Hallsal 1998). Another company emerged in 1891 when a mine in Orange Free State was discovered initially called Premier and late known as Wesselton. This company however did not significantly affect the market of De Beers and this too was consolidated with De Beers.

From South Africa, De Beers expanded operation worldwide. In London, it operated in the name of Diamond Trading Company2. It is in this center that the demand and supply of diamond trade is being controlled under the sales management arm called Central Selling Organization (CSO) (Epstein, Edward Jay, 1982). In Israel it is called The Syndicate which operates as the second greatest polishing force in the world with its high quality cut stones. Reports say that Israel has net imports of rough diamonds was 4.9 million carats in 2000 or equivalent to $2.8 billion (ibid). Due to its well commended polishing techniques, Israel has net exports of polished diamonds of 1.6 million carats on record in the same year, an amount equivalent to $3.2 billion (Smillie, Ian et,al. 2000).

Antwerp in Belgium is said to be the world’s diamond-trading centre. India on the other hand is its largest polishing centre with more than 800,000 polishers cutting industrial and lower quality gem stones2. Next to India in the diamond polishing centers is Russia with about 10,000 Russians employed. The latest polishing center was established in Canada which operates in four polishing plants in Yellowknife: Arslanian Cutting Works, Sirius Diamonds, Tiffany and Co. and Deton’Cho Diamonds which is now Canada Dene Diamonds2. It is said to be producing 10% of the world’s total production. In 1998 there were an estimated 115 million carats of rough diamonds produced in the international market with a market value of US $6.7 billion which were converted to polished and finished product in forms of jewelries amounting to US $50 billion (Smillie, et. al. 2000) . In 2001, De Beers was privatized2 when DB Investments, owned by the Oppenheimer family, bought 60% of its publicly traded stocks which valued $18.7 billion.  De Beers provides 45 per cent by value of the world diamond total and about one third by volume2. Recent statistical data show that De Beers have 21.3% women working as permanent employees and 16.4% in the management level1.

 

THE COMPANY’S STAKEHOLDERS

De Beers defines its stakeholders as “communities of interest” which include nations, governments and the general public (Fowler, Jonathan 2001). These stakeholders for the company are the ones being directly and indirectly involved in consultation and planning of projects they are to engage in and the interests of which are being considered in every step they take as part of social responsibility. These stakeholders are being involved in any or much of the following processes: dialogue and consultation, information exchange, feedbacks and even in decision making (ibid).

 

 

THE COMPANY MISSION

In the company’s official website, its mission (stated as purpose) states, “In the De Beers family of companies, we have one purpose: ‘We are driven to turn diamond dreams into lasting reality’.”1 Simply and yet poetically stated, the company’s mission, like many companies do, De Beers would like to be a genie or a fairy for the community. As with every company, De Beers’ mission is to help alleviate the economic status of every life it touches by bringing dreams of riches as precious as its diamonds into reality. How will then they did go through about it?

Behind the luster of the success story of De Beers are the miserable lives of the South African natives. Although not tacitly proven to be involved in the Blood Diamond or Conflict Diamond trade, the diamond mining industry and South Africa have brought the dream of quiet and bright future into a something darker and thicker than the mud in the mining beds. As the world’s controller of the diamond industry, De Beers should have the power to control illicit diamond trade which said to have fueled civil wars in Angola, Congo and Sierra Leone. Apart from speculation, this paper suggests a clearer and more powerful statement of its mission to make it sound more socially responsible. The mission statement appears to be centered only on the satisfaction of its customers- those who are rich enough to afford the priceless gem for many people.

Let us remember that De Beers define its stakeholders as the communities of interest which include the government and the general public. However, the statement is so vague that it appears to center its mission to stakeholders who are of “interest” in the money vested in the diamond industry. Diamond is every woman’s dream. A precious stone with a price only few in the world can afford is simply a sacrifice for a man to buy for a woman’s pleasure. With this as a basis, we can therefore say that De Beers’ mission of turning diamond dreams into reality focused on the emotional satisfaction of man and woman for love. The mission does not extend to those African children who have been innocently amputated by rebels for illicit diamond trade.

In order to make the mission in line with the interest of the stakeholders (with the inclusion of general public in reality), the mission statement could have been better stated this way: We are committed to help people’s lives become as precious as diamonds. There will always be a better way to express a company’s desire to genuinely integrate the interests of the stakeholders not just the stockholders in its mission statement. In the case of De Beers, the impact of the mission statement is greater on the material side of operating for profit. Moreover, it is reflective of the satisfaction of the end user rather than the benefit of the hands of those who are working hard to convert them into lovely jewelries.

 

THE COMPANY VISION

De Beers’ vision statement says, “We also have big dreams for the De Beers family. Our ambitious growth vision is focused on1:

“Unlocking the full economic value of our leadership position across the diamond pipeline” and “Making it a reality by maximizing the potential of our global partnerships: the skills and commitment of our people and the magic and emotional value of our product.”1

The vision must be in line with its mission and in this regard, De Beers seems to get it straight. As much as the mission statement is focused on economic side of the business operation, its vision statement made it clearer that water. The economic leadership it is referring to seems to point out a desire for control in the diamond industry by pushing to the limits of its economic resources to gain global partnerships. This vision is in fact already realized by the company being able to buy the three earlier major players in the industry and have them consolidated into one huge company. The monopoly of diamond mining polishing and trading seem to reflect the reality that De Beers, for its vision, would like to make it a point that it can dictate its own price for its product.

This paper then suggests, in order making it more socially responsible, that the vision statement should focus on enhancing the skills and promoting commitment of its people to the mission of the company. Again, the vision has its focus on economic leadership for the satisfaction of the stockholders using the skills of it people. As suggested, the vision statement should be formulated in a way that it will reflect ethical and social responsibility more than economic value. In this view therefore, it is suggested that the vision statement be modified this way:

It is De Beers’ vision to maximize economic opportunities for its people by valuing their skills and commitment as much as the emotional value of its product.

 

COMPANY VALUES

“In everything we do, we strive to reflect the unique qualities of our product. We call this Living up to Diamonds.”1

De Beers promotes five values as published in its website and these values include: passion, unity, trust, concern for people and excellence1. This time, the values seem to be in line with the mission and vision statements as discussed and revised earlier in this paper. The value of passion is expressed in the company’s joy in working hard for their products including challenges and opportunities that come their way. In line with social responsibility, De Beers’ value of passion will guide the management in focusing not only on the economic side of its operations but also to community service by creating and providing opportunities to the needy ones.

The value of unity is one thing that most, if not all companies integrate in their values statements that provides a clear focus on the interests of the internal stakeholders for the benefit of the external stakeholders. In its statement, De Beers says, “Being united in purpose and action, we will turn the diversity of our people, skills and experience into an unparalleled source of strength.” Expressed with dignity and pride, De Beers appears to be a socially responsible company here since it recognizes and respect cultural diversity as a valuable tool in making a strong organization. Prior to this, it is important that each member of the organization be able to build trust and confidence on the company in order to promote “open and honest relationship.”

Another value promoted by De Beers is the concern for he community, the nation as a whole and the environment. “We will always think through the consequences of what we do so that our contribution to the world is real, lasting and makes us proud.” This is very important for De Beers because such concern will guide each decision maker and strategy planner in designing project plans for the company. Without this consideration, it is unlikely that De Beers will be able to reflect an environment and socially-focused business operations. Upon consideration of the values of passion, unity, trust and concern, De Beers can possibly take the challenge to shape the future of its people and the community it serves. For De Beers, the value of excellence is something they have to insist on carrying out.

The only thing however that this paper would like to revise on the values statement of De Beers is the order of which they are being prioritized. It is suggested that concern for people comes first, then passion, trust, unity and then excellence. The main point is that before someone has to have a joy on things that he do, he must first have to carry the value of concern for others since striving to work hard is driven by the concern for the welfare of others. After the value of passion, the value of trust must come which will lead to unity. We have to understand that people cannot be united when each does not put his trust on one another. If all stakeholders are united and work in one accord for one mission and vision, then an organization can have the assurance to excellence.

 

REFERENCES

1De Beers Consolidated Mines Company (2008). Purpose, Vision, Values and Principles.  Retrieved on March 16, 2008 from http://www.debeersgroup.com/debeersweb/About+De+Beers/De+Beers+Value+and+Culture/Purpose+vision+and+values.htm

3Diamond Mines of South Africa. Retrieved on March 14, 2008 from http://www.oldandsold.com/articles21/diamond-11.shtml

Epstein, Edward J. (1982). Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? The Atlantic Monthly, February 1982. Retrieved on March 14, 2008 from http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/198202/diamond

Fowler, Jonathan (2001). Case History For De Beers Canada Inc. – Experiences With Diamond Exploration And The Victor Project, Ontario. Retrieved on March 16, 2008 from http://209.85.173.104/search?q=cache:_xRV6Wp6T-MJ:www.pdac.ca/pdac/advocacy/csr/de-beers-canada-inc.pdf+de+beers+corporation+mission+vision+statement&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&lr=lang_en

2No more sneaking around. Retrieved on March 14, 2008 from http://www.nnsl.com/ops/mining.html

Tappan, Eva March (1914). The World’s Story: A History of the World in Story, Song and Art, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914), Vol. III: Egypt, Africa, and Arabia, pp. 437-457. In Halsall, Paul, Modern History Sourcebook: Anthony Trollope: The Diamond Fields of South Africa, 1870. November 1998. Retrieved on March 14, 2008 from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1870trollope-southafrica.html

 

 

 

 

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