Leading workplace diversity and hiring from marginalized demographics

Workplace diversity does not occur spontaneously.

‘THE IMPORTANCE of employing people with disabilities and diversity in the workplace is understood by employers more and more, they see the reward indirectly and directly.’  (photo credit: REUTERS)
‘THE IMPORTANCE of employing people with disabilities and diversity in the workplace is understood by employers more and more, they see the reward indirectly and directly.’
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As the Ashdod Port Company’s chairwoman of the board, I am instituting a workforce recruitment policy founded on diversity in the workplace and advancing the employment of target populations by the company.
I am convinced that decreasing societal gaps between different populations is a significant and important objective that constitutes a fundamental component of the State of Israel’s national, economic and social fabric.
As an executive possessing experience with many organizations, it is clear to me that we – the leaders of Israel’s economic and business activities – must take responsibility for the companies that we manage and the values that we instill. Business and values can and must be integrated into the goals and objectives that a company sets for itself. When building a strong firm, we must bear in mind that we are also forming a framework of social resilience. We – in particular, the managers holding the most senior positions – must make good use of the privilege given to us to lead the economy’s largest companies and organizations and see the bigger social picture.
The Port of Ashdod was selected by the Government Companies Authority as one of three companies to lead a pilot initiative to promote workplace diversity and to hire employees from certain target populations. The goal of the Companies Authority and Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s initiative is to advance workplace diversity in government companies among the Arab and Druze populations, women in management positions and members of the Ethiopian community. The Port Company is also promoting workplace diversity by hiring people with substantial disabilities.
During 2017, the Port of Ashdod conducted a special tender to hire workers for dockworker positions within the company. For the first time, the tender for this position was designated solely for marginalized demographics: women, members of the Ethiopian community, Arabs and Druze. As a result of this tender and the board of directors’ employee recruitment policy, 50% of the employees accepted to work at the port during the years 2017-2018 came from these target demographics. Additional designated tenders were published for positions in other areas as well.
Diversity is a process by which we incorporate workers with different backgrounds into the company and develop an organizational culture that accepts everyone. Integrating diversity into places of business has proven itself as an engine for growth and business success. I strive towards achieving heterogeneous employment because of the importance of social values, the force of the law and because, as a government company owned by the public, the Ashdod Port Company should represent all of the various facets of the public it represents.
I would like to emphasize the fact that workplace diversity does not occur spontaneously – experience shows that the target demographics do not submit candidacies for tenders floated to the general public, and it is our responsibility to prompt them to submit such candidacies to job openings at the port. This requires a diversity plan that includes designated tenders for marginalized demographics, internal and external organizational communications and training sessions to raise awareness of the topic.
The aforementioned tender formed a precedent. It was the first time that a dockworker tender was aimed at marginalized demographics, including women – until that time, there had been only one female dockworker at the port, who had been hired one year prior. Today there are four female dockworkers.
To ensure the success of the process, organizational efforts were made to involve the dockworkers and guarantee that all of them would be successfully incorporated into the fabric of the organization, to reduce objections and to prevent attrition of employees from diverse backgrounds. My initial premise was that the success of incorporating the new hires was the joint responsibility of the employees and of the Port Company itself, which is tasked with providing the optimal conditions for integration and for the new employees.
I will summarize by saying that there are many demographics in Israel that deserve a leg-up in order to close the gaps between them and the other parts of Israeli society, and any actions taken to realize this goal are morally warranted and warmly welcomed.
The writer is chairwoman of the board of directors for the Port of Ashdod, which has opened its gates and is conducting
employment contract tenders for women, people with disabilities, members of the Ethiopian community and the Arab and Druze populace.