Government of Israel as a Diverse Employer: The Civil Servic...

Government of Israel as a Diverse Employer: The Civil Service Commission 2019 Diversity Report

August 27, 2020

In mid-2020, the Diversity in Employment Department of Israel’s Civil Service Commission issued its “#Diversifying_Israeli_Civil_Service” Report, which reviews government employee diversity in 2019 and assesses the government’s progress toward its goals of increasing representation of Arab citizens, Israelis of Ethiopian descent, people with disabilities, and new immigrants. The Civil Service Commission is responsible for managing the employment of civil servants and setting them up for success.   

The Commission, and thus the Government of Israel, have prioritized increasing diversity within their ranks. As Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz writes in the opening of the report: 

“Employment diversity is of paramount value to ensure the professionalism and quality of the Civil Service. The COVID-19 crisis, which has plagued Israel and the entire world, has also sharpened the day-to-day challenge facing the Civil Service. To meet this challenge, we must ensure that the diverse voices that compose Israeli society are reflected in policy design and decision-making”. 

In sum, diversity in the Civil Service is rising including the Arab representation rate, however these increases are uneven, with overrepresentation in some ministries and under—or even no representation in other ministries and in leadership positions. In 2019, Arabs comprised 12.2% of Civil Service employees. In addition, Arab women are under-represented overall.  


Achieving Targets 

In 2007 and 2009, Israeli Government Resolutions 2579 and 4436 set a target of 10% of Civil Service positions being filled by Arab citizens by 2012. This target was achieved in 2016 and the percentage continues to rise, hitting 12.2% in 2019. From 2015-2019, the representation rate of Arab Civil Service workers increased by 3%. In an additional positive trend, as of 2019, 25% of all Civil Service departments now meet the 10% target, compared to 22.3% in the 2018 report.  

The Civil Service Commission has made a concerted effort to create inclusive hiring practices: These practices include marketing positions to Arab society, collaborating with employment centers and community organizations in Arab society, publishing hiring criteria in Arabic, and advertising “targeted positions” specifically for Arab citizens. 

Uneven Representation Across Ministries 

While 12.2% is the average Arab representation, the Ministry of Health accounts for 65.6% of all Arab civil servants, with 17.6% representation. Without this Ministry, average Arab representation in the civil service drops to 7.7%, well below the 10% target (and down from 8.2% in 2018). Additionally, 18.6% of the Ministry of Interior employees are Arab, which aligns with the highly localized and community-specific functions of the ministry.  

Many key Ministries are far from hitting the 10% target, as displayed in the chart below. In 2019, three Ministries reported an increased representation rate above 1%; in all other government Ministries, there was an increase of less than one percent or no increase at all. 


Arab Women in Civil Service 

Women comprise the majority of the Civil Service, 62% total in 2018. However, among Arab employees, women are the minority at 43%. The report noted this contrast and described the need to increase the number of female Arab employees.  

Representation in Leadership Positions 

According to the report, the Civil Service didn’t meet career advancement goals for Arab employees. While 44.9% of Civil Service employees are in entry-level positions, 61.5% of Arab employees are, and only 0.6% hold senior-level roles.  

By level of employment, in 2019, Arabs comprised 8.6% of student positions in the civil service, 15.5% of entry-level positions, 10.8% in professional positions, 6.6% of middle management, and 3.3% of senior positions—but again, not evenly distributed across ministries.   


The Report identified existing leadership programs within the Civil Service that can play key roles in providing advancement opportunities for under-represented communities. These programs include the Civil Service Cadets Program, Advanced Training for Upcoming Middle-Managers, and the Senior Management Associates Program. To date, Arab citizens consist of less than 10% of graduates of these programs. The report underscored that Arab participation in these programs is beneficial not only for the Arab employees directly, but also because senior government officials of all backgrounds will have greater exposure to the diversity of Israeli society and gain cultural sensitivity skills.  

In the report, the Civil Service Commission affirmed its intention to continue prioritizing employment diversity and trying to increase representation of all under-resented populations across all government ministries. In her remarks accompanying the report, Dr. Iris Nehemiah, Head of Strategic Planning and Strategy, explained, “employment diversity is not just something technical, but both a right and obligation to serve the entire public.” 

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