The elderly, ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, Ethiopians, people with disabilities, and people that live in the periphery often experience discrimination in the workplace, even though having employees that reflect a population’s makeup can actually be an advantage for an organization.
In today’s polarized and divisive Israeli society, it is more important than ever to have a diverse, inclusive, accepting, and egalitarian work environment for different populations.
Yesterday, (May 21st) as part of World Day for Cultural Diversity–a UN initiative to raise awareness of diversity in society– we examined how high-tech companies encourage and enable diversity among their employees.
The growing awareness amongst high-tech firms, of the need for, and potential in, diversifying their workforce, is due, in no small part, to organizations like Tsofen, which, for over 15 years, has provided hundreds of companies with tools and opportunities to recruit software developers from the under-represented Arab society and to make their workspace more inclusive. As a result, today nearly 10,000 Arab engineers contribute to the growth of the national high-tech industry.
Bar Lev High Tech Park
Bar Lev High Tech Park, located near Ahihud Junction, is a center of R&D for high-tech companies; it hopes of becoming the Silicon Valley of the Galilee. The vision behind the park is to establish a cutting-edge high-tech hub that will host local and international tech companies, encouraging the integration of excellence, creativity, innovation, and growth. Today, there are 40 companies at the park, and it will host up to 5,000 new jobs in the high-tech ecosystem for the diverse population of the Galilee. The periphery allows companies to enjoy a bigger selection of talent while creating social and occupational diversity since the residents of the area are a heterogeneous group of Jews, Druze, Circassians, Muslims, and Christians. This diverse and unique human fabric leads to ground-breaking thinking and is the basis for bringing different approaches to creativity and out-of-the-box problem-solving approaches.
Salesforce’s company culture and vision are to leverage the company’s influence to make a difference in the world; they want to achieve gender equality and diversity while giving a sense of pride to employees and the opportunity to express themselves as part of a tolerant and inclusive company. The company strives to represent the country’s population within the organization and has three R&D sites in Israel- Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, and Nazareth, that employ people from all sectors.
Those same values are what drove Salesforce to create equality groups: groups of employees that share similar life experiences or similar backgrounds to promote a common goal and/or the rights of different underrepresented populations. All active members of the equality groups do so voluntarily, in addition to their official position in the company. They organize activities and workshops as well as collaborate with different organizations such as Tsofen which aspires to develop the high-tech sector in the Arab community, KKL, and other non-profit organizations.
The equality groups operate at the global level. In fact, in the global organization, there are 12 groups and in Israel, there is a representation of 7 groups: Arabforce, Vetforce, Abilityforce, Earthforce, Faithforce, Outforce and SWN (Salesforce Women Network).
As Ayelet Hammer, VP HR at Incredibuild says: “Diversity, in all its forms, has an immense impact on both companies and individual employees. It makes for unique perspectives that allow teams to learn from each other, collaborate, and grow. Incredibuild is proud to have people of diverse backgrounds on its team. We employ religious and secular members of the Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian faiths. We are challenging the generally male-dominated high-tech industry, with women comprising 55% of Incredibuild’s management team, including our CEO. All our conference rooms are named after leading women in tech – a constant reminder that women are, have been and will continue to be at the forefront of innovation. We aim to inspire future generations through projects like Sophie Books, a book series Incredibuild created available in Hebrew, Arabic, and English to raise awareness, educate, and inspire young people to get involved in entrepreneurship.”
GenCell, a leading provider of ammonia and hydrogen fuel cell energy solutions prioritizes diversity and inclusion. One feature that is prominent in the company’s Petah Tikvah headquarters and R&D center is the employees’ age range. For example, they hired a 21-year-old who joined the development team while still enrolled in university and quickly immersed himself in one of the company’s interesting projects. On the other hand, the company is proud that one of its engineers is an 80-year-old who worked on a Russian spacecraft in the past.
Soluto is a Tel-Aviv-based company serving as the R&D and Innovation Center of the American Tech-Care leader Asurion. As Adi Ephod, Recruitment Lead & HRBP at Soluto stated “At Soluto, we fully embrace and acknowledge the value of a diverse environment and adjust accordingly so that each employee can feel in the right place. 45% of our staff is women, with 50% in senior management; we have a thriving LGBT community; we pride ourselves on hiring employees from a variety of backgrounds including those who are orthodox, Arab, or from the periphery. We continuously search and find ways to preserve our unique and diverse culture, including internal round tables, inclusive language in our job descriptions, collaborations with communities such as LGBTech, she-codes; and more. We believe in harbouring personally tailored experience for our employees, providing flexibility and allowing every one of them to be their true selves.
Vcita has a diverse company culture that includes a gender balance, employees from different communities (Ultra-Orthodox, LGBT, etc.), various religions and nationalities, and a wide range of ages. Nearly 50% of their employees are women with about 40% of those women in management roles. Close to 40% of them are also in technical positions. Vcita works hard to maintain and improve these statistics by providing a working environment where each person, no matter their background, can thrive and excel – both personally and professionally. vcita believes that a diverse culture has a direct impact on the dynamics between the employees, the level of openness and transparency, and the degree of flexibility, and as a result, the degree of trust that exists between employees and their managers. Additionally, it is this diversity that encourages innovation and leads to out-of-the-box thinking, which is pivotal to vcita’s success.