Ethiopian Israelis Face Most Severe Hiring Discrimination, Poll Finds

A new survey by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor suggests that the economic value of a diversified workforce still isn't clear to many employers.

Among all social and ethnic groups in Israel, employers least prefer to hire Ethiopians, according to a survey conducted by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's research department, the first of its kind in Israel. The survey's findings were presented Wednesday at the annual conference of the ministry's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In a telephone poll taken by 384 businesses with at least 10 employees, owners, CEOs and human resource managers were asked about their attitudes on workplace diversity. Only 5.6% said they preferred hiring workers of Ethiopian background while 7.4% stated a preference for Arab workers and 8.7% for Haredim.

While 76.6% of employers thought workplace diversity promotes equal employment opportunities and 59.6% said it can improve customer service, 55.7% denied it could help their business improve 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 stifling diversity, followed by resistance among the company's workforce, 29.6%, and customer disapproval, 26.6%.

The handicapped are by far the most likely to encounter opposition to being hired, according to 36% of respondents, while 19.7% singled out Arab jobseekers as facing such opposition, 13.5% for Haredim, and 12.5% for people aged 45 and up.

Nir Keidar