August 13, 2018

Arab Employment Achievements Presented at 2018 Collective Impact Conference

Steady Commitment to Arab Employment Integration in the Private Sector

In July 2018, directors from some of Israel’s leading companies personally submitted ‘progress reports’ on their integration of Arab employees to President of Israel Reuven Rivlin as part of the third annual Collective Impact Employers Conference. Held in the Bedouin town of Kuseife, the conference marked three years of cooperation between the Collective Impact Partnership for Arab Employment (CI) and President Rivlin’s Israeli Hope for Employment initiative, which are working together to achieve a breakthrough in Arab representation within Israel’s core business sector.

Collective Impact provides companies with services and supports for successfully integrating Arab professionals, helping them establish long-term work plans and address procedural and cultural barriers. CI currently works with twenty major private sector employers in Israel, including Microsoft, Deloitte, Amdocs, Strauss, Osem, Coca-Cola, Teva, and Israel Discount Bank.

At the conference, ten companies engaged for more than one year with CI presented notable achievements, shown in the table below. The employers discussed benefits to integration such as reaching a broader customer base, gaining loyal employees with upward mobility, and creating a culturally diverse work environment. Across the board, these employers expressed commitment to continuing their work with CI and furthering Arab integration into their workforce. Ilan Birnfled, CEO of Deloitte Israel, which recently opened a branch in the Arab town of Nazareth, described integration as a “Win, win, win… the employee wins, the customer wins, the company wins, the Arab business sector wins, and from a broader perspective, the State of Israel wins.”

Growth of Arab employees in 10 companies partnering with Collective Impact


Since 2016, 2020 placements of Arab employees have been made at these companies overall. Of these, 330 have been in professional and headquarters positions, an average increase of 263% per company, as nearly all had only 0-1% Arab employees in such roles at the start of the process. Companies also showed indicators of internal organizational change: all have incorporated benefits and activities acknowledging the holidays and customs of Arab employees, 80% have conducted activities for greater familiarity with Arab society, and 60% established an ‘Arab colleagues’ forum.’

Growth in Arab HQ and professional positions in 10 companies partnering with CI from 2016 (in red) to 1st half of 2018 (in yellow)


The initiative’s models for intervention are based on a comprehensive study commissioned by CI in 2015, which found, among other things, that Arabs comprise only 5% of employees and 0.3% of managers in the core business sector—meaning in large, Jewish-owned companies with over 1,000 employees and annual turnover of over $50 million—which employ 70% of Israel’s labor market. It also found that companies’ primary business case for employing Arabs was to improve human resources management, including expanding their recruitment database and reducing turnover. Roughly 80% of companies participating in the study cited lack of access to candidates as their main barrier to the employment of Arabs.

The collective impact model implemented by the CI initiative relies on broad inter-sectoral partnership between stakeholders, including employers, NGOs, government, municipal leadership, Arab and Jewish professionals, and the President’s Office, to create system-wide, deep, sustainable change. Its goal is to engage 100 leading private sector companies in Israel within 10 years.

One of the major challenges discussed was increasing the number of Arab applicants, which currently stands at a 1:4 ratio of candidates to positions, and needs to increase significantly to maximize opportunity for inclusion. Since 2016, 300 positions seeking Arab candidates were not filled due to lack of Arab applicants. Recommendations for government intervention included subsidies for transportation from Arab municipalities and establishing more professional internship programs for Arab students, particularly in high-tech subjects.


The partnership between the President’s Office and CI was launched in 2015 with recognition that increasing the quality and rate of employment among Arab citizens is vital to the socio-economic sustainability of Arab society and Israel at large. Approximately half of Arab families in Israel are under the poverty line, and with Arabs contributing 8% to Israel’s GDP while comprising over 20% of the population, Israel’s economy loses an estimated NIS 31 billion a year.[1] The CI initiative operates with the understanding that large income and employment gaps between Jews and Arabs harm not only Israel’s economy, but also its democracy and social solidarity. In the words of President Rivlin upon the launch of the initiative, “The employment market is the best measure of our ability to live together, and to be a bridge of hope for Israel, and the Middle East.”

The Conference was held less than two weeks following the passage of the Nation-State basic law by Israel’s Knesset, which is widely opposed by Arab society and perceived as a turning point in state-minority relations in Israel. Arab public sector leaders at the conference addressed President Rivlin regarding the law, speaking to its damaging effect on Arab society and shared society efforts. In response, President Rivlin spoke on the importance of balancing Israel’s democratic and Jewish nature, and the vital role that private sector employers play in maintaining this balance by continuing and furthering their commitment to diversity in the labor market and the employment of Arab citizens.

[1] IATF Condensed Fact Sheet on Arab Citizens in Israel, June 2018.

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