As global awareness of good corporate citizenship becomes an ethical norm, Maala, the non-profit membership organization for business ethics has released an upgraded "Corporate Social Responsibility Rating" for 2006 while also updating the Maala Index for Social Responsibility. "In the global world today, business is conducted in a way which takes into account social responsibility," said Talia Aharoni, managing director of Maala. "The updated ranking gives public recognition to companies which have a corporate policy, which is influenced by social and environmental issues." Ormat Industries, Elbit Systems, Osem Food Industries and the country's three largest banks are among the top 10 of the Maala 2006 rating report as are Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Industrial Building Corporation and Strauss-Elite. Included in the second group of 10 are Gazit Globe, Blue Square Israel, Harel Insurance Investments, Clal Industries and Investments, Perrigo, Tower Semiconductors and Partner Communications. The revised rating is based on expanded criteria in four main topics pertaining to corporate social responsibility: work environment, business ethics, human rights and community investment. The ratings list is limited to public- or private-sector companies with annual revenues of more than $100 million. This year only 49 of Israel's largest companies - compared with 66 last year - wanted to participate in the rating process as the updated rating criteria requested an increased level of transparency and exposure, Maala said. "Israeli companies which did not want to join this year will join next year," said Aharoni. "Companies which conduct their investments and risks with an ethical business strategy achieve long-term stability and give value to investors." Aharoni added that the Maala rating in 2006 was an important step in the long-term process towards the implementation of a corporate social responsibility strategy by Israeli companies. The Maala rating, which was conducted by the Maalot credit agency, found that the average donation by companies that participated in the rating process increased by 30 percent, from an average of NIS 3.4 million in the previous ranking, to NIS 4.4m. this year. In proportion to profit, the average donation amounted to 1.2%, up from 0.69% previously. With regard to one of the new criteria concerning the number of women in management positions, the Maalot report found that the average percentage of women employed among 10% of high earners was only 20%. Most of the companies reported having a policy to prevent discrimination and prejudice, and almost all said they maintained a fair working environment that complied with the law. About 98% were said to have regulations to prevent sexual harassment. In a more concerned note, Maalot revealed that 39% of the rated companies said they had no labor organization and no intention to allow it, although Israeli law stipulates that employers must allow for the organization of labor unions. About 37% of the companies were reported to already have labor organizations, while 24% would allow labor groups. Accordingly, Maala also upgraded its index in cooperation with McKinsey & Co. and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The Maala Index was launched on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in February 2005 and lists the 20 leading companies in the Maala rating for social responsibility, which satisfy the threshold conditions of the Tel Aviv 100 index. "The updated Maala index is an expression of enormous progress in the area of corporate social responsibility in Israel," Aharoni said.