Collective Impact Initiative and President Rivlin launch Jew...

Collective Impact Initiative and President Rivlin launch Jewish-Arab Business Mentoring Project

October 12, 2015

On October 8th, President Reuven Rivlin hosted a meeting of the Collective Impact Initiative, a business leadership forum promoting integration of Arab society into the private business sector. Some 50 of the top Israeli Jewish and Arab executives representing a range of industries (i.e, financial, pharma, hi tech, bio tech, industrial, etc.) participated.

In his remarks, President Rivlin affirmed that "the events of these last few days do not, in any way, diminish the need for this meeting here, it affirms and enhances its importance."

This first meeting of the forum, following its official inauguration in February, included the launch of a Business Mentoring Program, coupling Jewish and Arab mentors and mentees who will meet monthly to open doors, resolve workplace challenges and promote professional networking. This mentoring also supports ongoing dialogue and shared learning about challenges for members of the Arab society.

Advancing Arab employment has become a major domestic priority in Israel in recent years. Significant disparities between Jews and Arabs in Israel in the rate and quality of employment and levels of income and poverty are costly to the Israeli economy and damaging to social cohesion.

Founders of the Collective Impact Initiative, Dr. Sameer Kassem and Yifat Ovadia, created the forum as a platform for private sector leadership to coordinate and leverage their abilities to address challenges to closing Arab employment gaps. Together, they aim to identify business needs, opportunities and barriers with regards to employment of Arabs, then design practical models that will support businesses setting Arab employment as a measurable, internal business goal.

Propelling the Israeli business sector to lead a breakthrough in the employment of the Arab population is the main imperative of the Collective Impact Initiative, a diverse consortium of senior business leaders, organizations and government bodies that is headed by Dr. Sameer Kassem, Zvi Ziv and Yifat Ovadia. With over 130 participants in attendance, Collective Impact celebrated the inauguration of the Jewish-Arab Business Mentoring Project at the President’s Residence last week.

To integrate Arabs into the Israeli work force at all levels of employment, Collective Impact’s objective is twofold: First, to create a breakthrough in the business sector in identifying business needs, opportunities and barriers with regards to employment of Arabs, and then design practical models that will support businesses in implementing employment of Arabs as part of their measurable, internal business goal. This initiative brought, for the first time ever, the leading Israeli private sector’s companies to participate in a unique cross edging research that explains the market failure and the opportunities for change.   

With the launch of the Mentoring Program, Collective Impact sets out to affect the scope of employment within the Arab society, by creating monthly, one-hour, meetings between senior and mid management, Jews and Arabs, many of whom from the Young Arab leadership forum. The 44 mentor –mentee couples are comprised of leaders in the financial, pharma and hi tech industries. This mentoring further creates a dialogue relating to work challenges and employment opportunities in the Arab society, in a way that enriches both sides and furthers mutual knowledge. At the meeting, Professor Tamar Saguy from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzlyia (IDC) lectured about attitudes, beliefs and barriers relating to the complex relationship between Jews and Arabs and presented several pragmatic tools that can help companies overcome such bias.

Beyond promoting employment in the Arab Sector, the Collective Impact Initiative strives to change the participants' concepts, defy prejudices and shift attitudes hoping to affect the larger arena of Jewish – Arabs relations in Israel. Acknowledging that the labor market is a vital meeting place for Jews and Arabs, President Rivlin affirmed that by “creating a diverse Israeli business world that permits equal opportunities to realize a dream and assert one's talents, is the key to creating hope in Israel, to foster a vision that is open to all.”

Read more in the Marker (Hebrew)


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