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Opinion Articles



High-Tech & Technology -




Opinion Article


n last June, the ChiefScientist dropped a bomb:

The Innovation Report to the Prime Minister

stated that during the next decade, the local

high-tech industry would suffer from a shortage

of more than 10,000 engineers, and signs of the

crisis are already apparent today. The gap between

supply and demand for engineers is the most sig-

nificant barrier the Israeli high-tech industry is

facing today, stated the Chief Scientist, and if left

untreated, Israel would have a hard timemaintain-

ing its status as a world leader in technological

innovations. This was old news to high-tech firms.

In a convention last year Or Offer, the CEO of Simi-

larWeb, disclosed that the company already trans-

ferred a part of its R&D activity to Ukraine, because

of the difficulties to recruit engineers in the local

market. SanDisk also transferred unmanned jobs

abroad, and other companies are contemplating

similar moves. Currently, in an attempt to prevent

another wave of jobs transferred abroad, the gov-

ernment promotes a program for importing thou-

sands of high-tech employees, who will receive

work visas for 2-5 years, employment options for

spouses, and double the average salary in the Is-

raeli market. Both solutions– transferring R&D cen-

ters abroad and importing foreign engineers – are

limited by nature, and are claimed to domore harm

than good. It’s obvious that every Israeli company,

leaving to east Europe, India or North America is a

net loss to Israel. This is not just about lost jobs;

the entire economic activity – from administrative

jobs to logistics and restaurants near business cen-

ters–will be lost. In addition, the financial benefits

from importing employees are also limited, since

they don’t spend their salaries in Israel, and there

are significant recruiting and assimilation costs.

Needless to say these employeesmay leave due to

adaptation difficulties, geopolitical disorder, and

other reasons. Importing employees is a Band-Aid

in a place where serious consistent treatment is re-

quired. Fortunately, there is a third way, whichmay

meet at least some of the industry’s needs and has

many positive side effects for the Israeli economy.

It’s called Workforce Diversity. The idea is to de-

tect appropriate candidates in special populations

which are normally excluded fromdetection via the

regular channels, and require special training or

adjustments in order to be taken into employment.

It’s no secret that entire populations are under-

represented in the Israeli high-tech industry. These

are not only Orthodox Jews and Arabs, but also the

engineers of age 45+, the disabled and people who

live in the periphery. Contrary to popular belief, this

underrepresentation isn’t necessarily the result of

a lackof training or skills, but rather of many differ-

ent employment barriers. For example – recruiting

for the high-tech industry is mostly done through

closed networks or referrals, this is why social

homogeneity in the industry is so present, jobs

are kept within a relatively small circle. Orthodox

Jewish women for instance, require adjustment of

the workenvironment to their needs. Senior, highly

experienced engineers and software developers

aged 45+, require up-to-date training and a certain

adjustment in the roles they are requested to fill.

Workforce Diversity should therefore be decided as

a course of action by the executive management,

with the understanding that a certain amount of in-

vestment is required in the process. In large firms,

Workforce Diversity position is sometimes created

to accompany the process validating successful

integration. In smaller companies, an HRmanager

takes this responsibility. Workforce Diversity has

many benefits, significantly exceeding the cost of

initial investment. We witnessed these benefits

ourselves while accompanying such processes in

the last few years. Studies from across the world

support this claim. Some of the best-known ben-

efits are:

Creativity and problemsolving.

Many researches

show that diversified groups are better than ho-

mogenous groups in finding innovative, creative

solutions to professional challenges. The reason is

that diversified groups use several separatemeth-

ods of thinking simultaneously for each problem.

Long-term HR stability.

Workforce Diversity is

also characterized by increased employee loyalty,

particularly in groups that are usually excluded.

Employees appreciate the employers’ adjustments

and the supporting workenvironment, and are will-

ing to stay at their jobs even when they receive

better-paying job offers.

Accepting lessdesiredpositions.


are often willing to enter the organization via less

glamourous positions, especially when presented

with a career path and employment stability.

Improved intra-organizational communication.

The challenge of employing diverse populations

leads organizations to adopt better communica-

tions standards and create a more enabling and

open work environment. This effort has great ben-

efits, resulting in improved handling of challenges

or crises.

Diverse experience.

Employing people who are

45+ years old provides the organizationwith a layer

of historic knowledge in a specific field as well as

adjacent fields, their vast experience provides a

deeper, broader perspective of the mission. Older

employees tend to be better in intra-organizational

communication and are usuallymore loyal to their


Greater access to institutes and large organiza-


Sometimes, the company’s lifecycle leads to

new markets, new types of customers and differ-

ently oriented investors. The diversification helps

the organization with opening into new business

paths, and these employeesmay assist with open-

ing the doors to new markets. Diversification may

be a legal demand or a policy with large organiza-

tions that the company wishes to interact with; and

may be entitled to state benefits or bonuses.

In the past few years, Experis Israel facilitated a

Workforce Diversity program, intended for Orthodox

Jews, Druze and Arabs, as well as for employment

in the periphery and recruiting engineers aged 45+.

The program located specific candidates who had

difficulties in finding appropriate employment op-

portunities. In some cases, the customers decided

to establish new service/development centers for

employees living in the periphery, and attracting

new and educated employees whose life circum-

stances prevented them fromseeking employment

in major cities at the center of Israel.

Above and beyond all of these benefits for employ-

ers, it is worth remembering that Workforce Diver-

sity is also a national calling. It contributes to social

justice and reduces inequality, making sure that

the fruits of the high-tech economic growth reach

more sectors of Israeli society. At a fundamental

humane level, Workforce Diversity make the com-

pany’s employeesmore tolerant and accepting and

contributes to an enabling workenvironment. It cre-

ates a vocation throughout the entire organization,

and generates an atmosphere of high morale and

belonging. For many employers, these benefits are

as important as the P&L bottom line.

Workforce Diversity – The Next Challenge of the

High-Tech Industry

By Alon Strasman

Alon Shtrasman, CEO, Experis Software, running Experis Kickstart program, a unique coding bootcamp for university graduates