France Capon serves as the Secretary General of the European Precious Metals Federation. With a background enriched by two master’s degrees, one in art history and one in oriental languages, France’s career trajectory took a unique turn from academia to the world of European associations in 2003. Starting as an administrative assistant at Eurometaux, she has, over nearly a decade, ascended to managing EPMF, driven by her dedication to Europe and to diversity. Besides her professional endeavors, France is actively involved in Art&fact, an association of art historians, archaeologists, and musicologists in her hometown Liège.

France Capon
Secretary General, European Precious Metals Federation

France’s Story: Discovering My Passion for Associations

I arrived in the international association sector by coincidence. I was desperately in need of a job because the financing for my PhD had stopped. I discovered this completely unknown world of associations, European affairs, and metals! It was fascinating!

I did not have the typical profile: political science, law, or science (most of my colleagues at that time were working on the risk assessment of nickel), but I was very curious and eager to learn. And since then, I got the « association bug »! I spent only one year in a company because I thought that another experience would always be valuable, but I quickly returned to the world of associations and metals! And I love it: it is an opportunity to be creative and influence the future of Europe (at my scale, of course! :-)). I think the world of associations is not known enough by young people, and I would highly recommend promoting it – something I try to do at some high school trade shows) This is a world that functions best with a huge diversity of profiles, both personally and professionally.

France’s Approach: How to #InspireInclusion Through Our Work and Actions

For me, this is about the principles which drive my actions, decisions, and what I try to infuse into my work. To have a strong association – whatever the topic you work on – you need to be representative of society, and society is diverse and (unfortunately not always) inclusive. The best way to defend these principles is to ensure they guide you and that you distil them on a regular basis in your daily work, in your advocacy campaigns, or in your interactions with your peers.

The other secret is probably to be stubborn and never give up, even when you do not feel listened to! 🙂

France’s Perspective: On the Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Associations

An association can only be impactful if it reflects society. The association must represent the future and not the past. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are treasures to cherish. If you work with people having exactly your profile, your opinions, and your way of thinking, emulation, intellectual stimulation, and inspiration will be absent. Difference is an extraordinary stimulation which forces you to put yourselves in somebody else’s shoes! New ideas often come from confrontations of different ideas and worlds, and this is probably one of the best ways to learn and progress.

France’s Initiatives: Actions and Inspirations for Fellow Association Leaders

I have never launched initiatives or projects specifically on DEI. For me, the point is to have the DEI principles driving all the major projects and initiatives of my association. They should be present everywhere – naturally without being the sole centre of attention.

When you start organizing an event/meeting, for example, it is important to look at the panel and the audience and ensure that both reflect society. It is very common in industry associations to be reluctant to invite NGOs (especially when working in the chemicals management field), but having participants with a totally different point of view can often bring about the best outcome. The cultural and gender differences in such an event also bring an interesting dimension because it helps in thinking out of the box and being creative. This type of behavior gives an association a modern and proactive image, which is key for me. In that way, diversity and inclusion also help in finding solutions, and it is very important for an association doing advocacy to not only come with concerns/issues but most importantly with solutions to address them! Diversity and inclusion are also key to finding the best compromise (important for the Belgian citizen that I am! :-)).

A concrete action that we have implemented at the EPMF is to have a Board that properly represents our membership: small and big companies, organisations interested in one substance or in 100 substances, companies and associations, different nationalities, different profiles (business, more technical)… diversity and inclusion are also that! And having this very diverse Board allows the association to create a strategic vision that is acceptable by the entire membership.