High-tech embraces Israel's LGBTQ community

Elad Brindt-Shavit

Israeli high-tech provides LGBTQ employees with rights and benefits that should be extended to all, writes Facebook Israel executive Elad Brindt-Shavit.

This article is part of a special "Globes" project in Hebrew to salute the senior LGBTQ executives in Israeli high-tech. See the articles here.

“Are you relocating along with others?”

“Yes, with my male partner.”

“And do you have children?”

“Not yet, but we’re thinking about it.”

“Okay, I’ll put together a package for you and send it to you for your approval.”

So it was. In this almost ho-hum way, I told the recruitment manager who brought me to Facebook that I’m gay, I have a partner and we’re thinking about children. None of this bothered her, of course, and she was much more concerned that I should start working in November, before Christmas. Several years have gone by since then, along with several promotions and the birth of three children. And I still haven’t managed to shock anyone at Facebook or “come out of the closet” that you shouldn’t have to come out of..

Yes, if you accept yourself, the high-tech industry and the large technology companies make the job too easy. You’re talented? Great. You’ll also get supplementary health insurance for your male or female partner. It seems that in an overly competitive world, in which you have to reinvent yourself each time and compete with the best brains, no one has the time or even the right to judge people according to their sexual orientation. On the contrary, the magic word you’ll hear from the recruiters for these large companies is “diversity”: more women, more minorities, more people from the LGBTQ community. The assumption, which still must be transformed into reality, is that a more colorful room will yield the next “disruption” - another much-loved word in the realm of high tech.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2014 in a letter considered to be his emergence from the closet. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

So it’s not just that high-tech companies embraced the gay community and the gay pride parades around the world. At Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, there’s a giant interactive touchscreen that describes the important moments in the company’s short history: when the Like button was invented, when Instagram was acquired, when Facebook celebrated reaching a billion users. It also features another historic milestone: when Facebook took part for the first time in San Francisco’s Gay Pride parade - and that says a lot. In this respect, Facebook very much resembles Google, Microsoft and Apple.

In 2013, high-tech companies were active in publicly calling for the revocation of the US Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as being a union of one man and one woman. They argued that the law was unjust and, even more, that it prevented them from treating all their employees as equals or from persuading gay people to relocate to the US.

The Israeli high-tech industry provides its LGBTQ employees with rights and benefits that should be extended to all citizens of the state: full recognition of a male/female partner’s rights to financial and insurance benefits; full recognition of the gay family unit; pride events and support for pride events; and even economic assistance for the expensive process of surrogacy.

But high tech should not have to stand alone on this front. The tech companies did not invent equality; they simply embraced it. In the case of rights, you don’t need a developers’ code - you need business leaders and CEOs who will lead this change. I would be happy to hear about and write about the benefits that Israeli companies and brands are extending to their LGBTQ employees. And I would be even happier if they would do so openly, in the light, and not conceal it in the shadows. As a statement.

The writer is the Head of Consumer Business at Facebook Israel.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 10, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

View comments in rows
Update by email about comments talkback
Elad Brindt-Shavit
Elad Brindt-Shavit
Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018