Israeli Employers Not Sold on Diversity

YERUSHALAYIM -

A new survey on diversity in the Israeli workplace has found that the group most discriminated against is the handicapped, followed by Arabs and then charedim.

The telephone poll, sponsored by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry’s research department, was the first of its kind in Israel, and queried 384 businesses with at least 10 employees, owners, CEO’s and human resource managers on hiring practices.

The handicapped are most likely to face opposition to being hired, according to 36% of respondents. 19.7% said Arabs were the least wanted, 13.5% answered charedim, and 12.5% said it is people aged 45 and up, Haaretz reported on Thursday.

But among all social and ethnic groups in Israel, the survey found that Ethiopians were most likely to be discriminated against in hiring.

Only 5.6% said they preferred hiring workers of Ethiopian background, while 7.4% indicated a preference for Arab workers and 8.7% for charedim.

The researchers noted that Israeli employers are unconvinced that diversity could help business. Whereas 76.6% of employers thought workplace diversity promotes equal employment opportunities and 59.6% said it can improve customer service, 55.7% said they didn’t think it could help increase profits.

The figures suggest that the economic value of a diversified workforce still isn’t clear to many employers, according to Benny Pfefferman, head of research at the ministry.

“The government needs to set an example for diversified hiring,” he said. “We must demand of ourselves what we demand of others.”

Nearly a third of employers, 32.8%, see resistance by managers as the largest factor inhibiting diversity, followed by resistance in the company’s workforce, at 29.6%, and customer disapproval, at 26.6%.