Survey: 42% of Employers Prefer Not to Hire Arab Men

Economy Ministry polls finds Haredi men, educated Arab women face discrimination from employers as well.

Ofer Vaknin

Some 42% of all employers say they preferred not to hire Arab men, making them the group most likely to face job discrimination of five population categories covered in a survey released by the Economy Ministry on Sunday.

The poll, which was conducted by the ministry’s Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and surveyed 500 people, found that 37% of all employers preferred not hire Haredi men and that 22% felt the same about educated Arab women.

Smaller minorities of employers preferred not to offer work to mothers of young (13%) or Ethiopian men (9%).

“The survey raises difficult questions about how the public feels generally and employers in particular about workers from differing populations even though half those survey were women themselves,” said Tzionia King-Yair, the equal employment commissioner. “

In general, employees surveyed were less likely to express a preference for not working alongside various groups. Only 30% said they would prefer not to work with a Haredi male, 9% said they would rather not work with a young mother and 8% with an Ethiopian man.

But in some cases employees were more likely than employers to prefer not working with certain populations. Among surveyed employees, 46% said they would prefer not to work with an Arab man and 28% expressed the same view towards Arab women.

“If we don’t learn to realize the potential [of these groups], the Israeli labor market is the one who will lose because over the years it will create a severe shortage of good workers,” King-Yair said.

A report by the National Economic Council released last May found that the number of people from Israel’s non-Haredi Jewish population is contracting while the proportion of Haredim and Israeli-Arab is growing. It said Israel had to do more to integrate the two populations to ensure the economy continued growing.

In 2009, 71% of those aged 25 to 29 entering the labor force belonged to the third, more highly skilled, group (i.e., the non-Haredi and non-Arab sector ). The council said, though, that this group will decline to just 59% of the newly employed by 2019, and 53% by 2029.

In a related development, a shopper at the Rami Levy discount supermarket in Bnei Brak accused management of banning employees from speaking Arabic, a charge the company denied.

The shopper, the son of an Arab father and Jewish mother who asked not be identified, said he addressed two employees at the supermarket in Arabic last Thursday. In the first instance, the employee repeatedly answered back in Hebrew; in the second, an Arab cashier answered in Arab but in a whisper.

When the customer asked the manager why her employees refused to openly speak Arabic, he said he was told it was the policy of the Rami Levy chain.

Levy, the chain’s founder and controlling shareholder, dnied there was any such ban but said employees were instructed to aovuid speaking Arabic or other languages beside Hebrew to avoid a situation where shoppers might think workers are talking behind their back.

“We don’t stop anyone from speaking the language that is comfortable for them but we prefer employees speaking Hebrew,” he told TheMarker. “If [a customer] doesn’t know Hebrew, he is welcome to speak Arabic.”

King-Yair said the issue of language in a public workplace like a store depended on the context.

“You have to distinguish between a supermarket in the middle of a Jewish populated area, in which case the requirement to speak Hebrew is legitimate, and a supermarket in the middle of an Arab or Russian population,” she said. “In this particular case. There’s no ban on speaking Arabic, so it doesn’t appear that there’s any prima facie case of discrimination.”