Trans workers among most-discriminated populations in Israeli business

Surveyor LGBTech’s founder: “We have very little trans community in the tech industry.”

The outside of the Tel Aviv Municipality is lit up to resemble the LGBT Pride flag. (photo credit: COURTESY OF TEL AVIV-YAFO MUNICIPALITY)
The outside of the Tel Aviv Municipality is lit up to resemble the LGBT Pride flag.
(photo credit: COURTESY OF TEL AVIV-YAFO MUNICIPALITY)

The Israeli worker’s right organization LGBTech has released results of a recent survey detailing experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community members in the workplace. Among the statistics noted, nearly four in 10 (39%) of the 18% who reported workplace discrimination or harassment based on their gender identity or sexual orientation were transgender workers.

The survey canvassed more than 1,100 LGBT interviewees who reported on various issues including their relationships with employers and colleagues, instances of workplace harassment and the extent to which a workplace’s gay-friendly outlook affected their willingness to work there.

“An employer can be very diverse in the way that they recruit employees. But if its work culture doesn't provide space for people that come from different backgrounds, then you see that the retention of those populations is low.”

 Shachar Grembek, chair and founder of LGBTech

The results have shown that while significant progress has been made in regard to the inclusion of the LGBT communities in the Israeli business industry, the trans community does not yet enjoy the same level of acceptance.

“We have very little trans community in the tech industry,” said LGBTech chair and founder Shachar Grembek. He noted that the presence of employers’ personal biases, both conscious and unconscious, can have a serious impact on LGBTQ workers’ representation in business, particularly for more marginalized groups such as trans people and queer Arabs (which make up the second-most discriminated-against population on the survey, at 34%).

 Shachar Grembek, Chair & Founder of LGBTech (credit: Omer Stein) Shachar Grembek, Chair & Founder of LGBTech (credit: Omer Stein)

Diversity and inclusion don't end with hiring

Grembek elaborated on the importance of both diversity and inclusion in the workplace. While the former generates varied teams of employees that can bring novel and differing perspectives to the workplace, the latter is critical in helping marginalized groups feel willing to stick around and keep working.

“An employer can be very diverse in the way that they recruit employees,” he said. “But if its work culture doesn’t provide space for people that come from different backgrounds, then you see that the retention of those populations is low.”

For the past 11 years, Grembek’s organization has been promoting the diversity and inclusion of members of the LGBT community in Israeli employment through mentorship projects and networking events. The group has also worked with government ministries and MKs in promoting public policy for the inclusion of LGBT people in the employment market.
“If you look on LinkedIn, you’ll see that many companies in Israel have celebrated pride, either by changing their logo, or having happy hour, or having some lecture from someone from the LGBT community, which is something that you hardly saw five years ago and you didn’t see 10 years ago,” Grembek said. “I think we’ve made very good progress – and I’m happy that we also took part in this progress.”
With that progress under its belt, LGBTech’s next step is to create a toolkit for employers to utilize in order to increase their level of inclusivity. “Our goal for the next five years is to help employers understand what else they can do, other than a happy hour.”
To that end, Grembek intends to develop “an index for companies that doesn’t include only the happy hour and the logo, but a variety of things, including policies and practices that they implement in the workplace for LGBT people to feel safer. That includes lowering the barriers for recruitment, specifically for trans people, but also other populations as well.”
LGBTech’s index is currently in the pilot stage. Grembek expects it to launch in full next year.

“I believe that once we launch it, employers will start saying, ‘Oh, we can also do this and that and we didn’t think about this,’” he said. “Sometimes when I ask employers what they do to make an inclusive work environment, they don’t know. And I see it as part of our responsibility to help them understand how to achieve that.”