Room at the top?

Women are finding it tough at the peak of Israel's corporate world.

arison 88 (photo credit: )
arison 88
(photo credit: )
Women made up more than 50 percent of Israel's workforce in 2007, but only 2.2 percent of leading companies' chairpersons and 8.4% of CEOs, a survey conducted by Dun & Bradstreet Israel found. "The recent sensation created through the media that more and more women are taking key positions in the Israeli economy is not matched with the reality of the workforce of companies," the D&B report said. "The male sex still dominates in managerial positions of the economy and there are no signs that this situation will change significantly over the next few years, although women prove that they have management qualifications as much as their male counterparts." The D&B economists said an Israeli work-culture of long working hours was the main contributing factor. "There is a perception that an employee working more hours is a better employee," the report said. "Women trying to combine a career with being a mother make slower progress on on the career ladder of a company. To change the situation, government interference is required to provide working women with incentives." The D&B survey examined 1,400 managerial positions in leading companies. It found that the participation rate of female chairpersons fell 0.3% in 2007 to 2.2% when compared to 2006. Leading women business leaders include Zvia Leviev, who was last week nominated as chairwoman of Africa Israel Residences; Shari Arison, chairwoman of Arison Investments; Ofra Strauss, chairwoman of the Strauss Group; and Noga Keinan, chairwoman of the CFO Forum. At the same time, the rate of female CEOs rose to 8.9%, up from 6.6%, in 2007. The rate of deputy CEOs rose to 15.9%, up from 11.8%. The D&B Israel economists said Arison played a prominent role in the integration of women into senior positions in 2007. She either promoted or hired: Efrat Peled, director on Bank Hapoalim's board of directors and CEO of Arison Holdings; Iris Dror, director at Housing and Construction Holding Co.; and Irit Izakson and Pnina Dvorin, directors on Hapoalim's board of directors. Sector by sector analysis showed that there are certain fields that are strongly represented by women in senior positions, such as human resources (47.1%) and trade and services (30.5%). Fields dominated by men included law. Men headed the 10 largest law firms, except for Meitar Liquornik Geva & Leshem Brandwein, where Maya Liquornik is a partner. Low participation of female CEOs was found in construction (4%) and industry (3.4%), although in the construction sector the female participation rate was high in the position of marketing and sales manager (42.9%).