(photo credit: Veronica Therese)
The number of complaints against discriminatory practices in the workplace has
been steadily increasing since the creation of the Equal Employment
Opportunities Commission (EEOC) two years ago, The Jerusalem Post learned
The Ministry of Industry, Labor and Trade will hold its second
annual conference on Tuesday in Tel Aviv to reveal the discouraging
Figures reported by the commission for 2010 are said to include 643
complaints of racism, gender bias or other prejudices in places of employment –
up from 498 in 2009. Last year’s increase seems to be continuing this year too,
a commission representative said.
Equal Employment Opportunities
Commissioner Tziona Koenig-Yair told the Post
that the main goal of the
conference was to show businesses that equality can be an engine for economic
“We know there are many challenges but we want to make sure
employers know that diversity can be advantageous,” she said. “Employing men and
women – Jews and Arabs, able and disabled people – in the workplace makes good
Among those slated to speak at Tuesday’s symposium are
noted industrialists, including Ofra Strauss, chairwoman of the multimillion
dollar Strauss Group, who will give a gender perspective on employment, as well
as Manpower CEO Orna Segal, Michal Hame’eri CEO of BBDO Israel and Nitsan Lavi,
Deputy CEO of Super- Pharm.
The commission will also launch its official
guide to diversity recruitment at a special workshop outlining the benefits for
businesses that take such steps.
“Israel has a rapidly changing
demography and we know that the Arab and ultra-Orthodox populations will be the
majority in future years. That is why it is important for businesses to open
their eyes and open their markets,” said Koenig-Yair.
“That is very
difficult to do when all your employees are of the same background and same
Despite the increase in reports of unfair business
practices, Koenig-Yair acknowledges that the challenges to reducing
discrimination in the workplace are still great.
“It’s not only about
filing complaints,” she said. “At the moment we have roughly 20 cases litigated
in the Labor Court and some of them will be precedent-setting – but what is more
important for us is to get people on board in order to change the overall
In addition to exploring the benefits of diversity in the
workplace, the conference will also look at the role the media plays in
increasing or reducing discrimination, and how the role of military service in
Israel dominates employment criteria.
Also sharing their experiences will
be some international guests from Northern Ireland, which, has built a model for
equal employment opportunities there via its Northern Ireland Equality
In 2009, the EEOC joined forces with the NIEC under a
special European Union project aimed at bringing together EU and non-EU nations
for mutual cooperation and social development.