Arabs, Haredim and Women Suffer Most Workplace Discrimination in Israel

Equal Employment Commission launching ad campaign to promote diverse hiring practices and address discrimination.

Hila Weissberg
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Hila Weissberg

Pregnant women submitted one-third of all enquiries to the Economy Ministry’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year, the commission reported Wednesday. The total number of inquiries by pregnant women has increased 250% since 2009.

Furthermore, fully two-thirds of inquiries to the commission were from women.

This data comes as the commission prepares to launch a campaign advocating workplace equality, in an effort to encourage employers to be more open-minded in their hiring practices.

Due to be launched in February and to run for three months, the 5 million shekel ($1,425,720) TV and online ad campaign is intended to promote awareness of the benefits of diverse hiring practices and address discrimination and other obstacles to diversity in the workplace. It has been in preparation by the commission and the Employment Supervisor in the Economy Ministry for the past three years.

The opening ad of the campaign shows employers in a sports venue, participating in the “Israeli Championship for Tossing Resumes Into the Garbage.” To the applause of the crowd, resumes of people from different population groups - an Arab doctoral student, an ultra-Orthodox Jew and a young mother - are tossed into the garbage. The slogan that accompanies the ad is, “Champions at throwing resumes into the garbage? Your business is losing out. Diverse hiring is worth more to you.”

“When you want to transmit a message, you turn to extreme humor,” says Tziona Koenig-Yair, commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. “Employers prefer to stick with the familiar, and so hiring is done using the much-beloved ‘friend brings a friend’ method. Employers are likely to lose great workers, just because of prejudices and fossilized ways of thinking.”

The need for the campaign was reinforced by a number of surveys of both employees and job-seekers, which revealed that the top four groups that feel discriminated against in the workplace are Arabs (28.7%), ultra-Orthodox and religious Zionist Jews (23.8%), mothers of young children (22.6%) and individuals aged 45 and higher (22.4%.)

Another survey found that close to a third of employees surveyed preferred that no Arabs be hired at their workplace. Other groups that significant numbers of the employees surveyed did not want in their workplace were ultra-Orthodox Jews (17.7%) and women (13.2%).

An employer survey found that 19.7% of employers thought that either clients, employees or managers would be opposed to the employment of Arabs at their workplace. The same survey found that 13.5% of employers thought there would be opposition to the employment of Haredim in their workplace.

At the same time, the percentage of inquiries regarding the rights of pregnant women in the workplace grew to one-third of all inquiries in 2013, from 25.5% in 2009, the commission stated in its report for 2013. The total number of inquiries about pregnant women’s rights increased 2.5 times during the same period.

Two-thirds of all inquiries to the equal rights commission were from women, with the most common related to termination of employment due to pregnancy, parenthood and fertility treatments.

Women working in an electronics plant.Credit: Bloomberg

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