The US Embassy in Israel is about to launch a new program promoting diversity in the work place joint venture with Israeli nonprofit organization - ITWorks. Diversity in the workplace makes good business sense. There is a growing understanding in the business sector, as globalization diversifies local markets that workplace diversity benefits all, albeit the challenges it poses.
Why do we need diversity in the workplace?
Studies have, and still are, showing the benefits of diversity in the workplace. First, by employing diverse groups, the organization actually expands two major growth facilitators- creativity and innovation. Secondly, since employees take pride in being part of an organization that is both diverse and dynamic, there is increase in their sense of loyalty and commitment to the organization. In some cases, there is a significant increase in productivity as well. For companies providing services this is a necessity, since the customers themselves are from diverse social groups. In order for a company to provide excellent service, it must be able to reflect and identify with its customers. That includes hiring different people from different backgrounds and learning about their unique characteristics.
What is happening in Israel?
The high-tech sector is Israel’s most significant growth engine, per state policy. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, there are currently 3,566 open positions in the high-tech sector. Recently, Israeli government published that it intends to import 5,000 programmers at an estimated cost of 900 million NIS over a period of six years.
Government officials should invest this lucrative budget in developing human capital from within Israeli society. By developing educational and vocational programs, advancing marginalized groups and integration into the high-tech sector everyone will benefit. This investment will overcome two hurdles - it will be a solution to the lack of workers in the high-tech sector, and it will provide jobs to those excluded from the workforce. Before looking elsewhere- we should exhaust all the tools and resources we have in the various segments of Israeli society. There are many excellent candidates right here in Israel, people who want and can successfully integrate into the high-tech sector. All they need is to be given the chance and training.
It’s no longer about “contributing to the community”
In the past, diversity in the workplace has been linked to societal concepts such as social responsibility or contribution to the community. Lack of capabilities and weakness are erroneously attributed to marginalized populations. In reality, this is not the case. Talented people with impressive abilities are everywhere.
Every society has its own distinct groups that are marginalized and are excluded from the labor market. Although these groups may differ from country to country, their characteristics are the same, including a high level of commitment and strong motivation for success. Usually there are large gaps between the personal abilities and professional skills of these individuals and their ability to find a job that suits their skills. In most cases, these disparities prevent them from accessing job opportunities, which, in turn, deny the chance to successfully integrating into the workforce.
A great deal of work is done within the marginalized groups. Most of the burden is assumed by non-profit organizations and government agencies, which accommodate them and assist them in finding suitable employment. However, there is also a need to promote this subject among the employers- changing their perception on the matter, guiding them through the hiring process, and creating successful experiences that will encourage these doors to open naturally.
In global companies, the integration of workers from marginalized groups is almost an existential necessity. These companies operate globally and hire workers from different backgrounds and cultures.
The question that arises is what can be done in order to promote employment diversification?
In-depth processes of global companies
In light of the widespread belief that employment diversification contributes from a business standpoint, there is a need to develop in-depth implementation processes in the companies.
Diversity in the workplace requires senior management to be involved in the process and dedicate themselves to change perceptions. Companies that are in the habit of recruiting employees that have similar personal and occupational profiles should learn how to identify diversity as an advantage. Workforce uniformity may stem from cultural barriers or lack in practical tools, and so it becomes a challenge they must choose to tackle.
In order for the process to be properly managed and properly assimilated in any company, senior management lead by the CEO, must be involved in and devoted to creating such a change. In our daily practices, we try to create a rich work environment with high potential for innovation and creativity, and diversity is the tool by which we realize this potential. Any organization or company that has the courage to think and act out-of-the-box by recruiting workers from different backgrounds and cultures, will surely be a leader in its' field.
The purpose of the DIVERSITY WORKS Program, which we have initiated together with the US Embassy in Israel, is to spread the message of employment diversification among many other CEOs. We begin with 30 senior CEOs from the Israeli business sector joining forces to promote employment diversification and lead large-scale changes in their companies. The aim is to create at least 200 job opportunities targeting marginalized populations, a process that will open the labor market door to many others. Such processes require the support and commitment of the CEO, as well as organizational commitment and goal setting. There is no doubt that Diversity Works will contribute to the business sector and will influence employment diversification - a situation from which we all benefit.
Ifat Baron is the CEO of ITWorks, a non-profit organization that acts to promote diversity in the work force and realize the employment potential of populations that are excluded from the labor market and the workforce. At the end of the month, ITWorks, in cooperation with the US Embassy in Israel, is launching its DIVERSITY WORKS Program in a festive event in Israel. The program is aimed to promote diversity in the workplace together with the Israeli business sector.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 23, 2017
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