How Can YOU As A Leader Internalize Diversity, Belonging & Equality Into Practical Values ​​Across Organizations, Genders And Sectors?

Dr. Galit Desheh,
Diversity, Equality & Inclusion Advisor

Diversity, belonging, equality & gender - as important as they are - can sometimes be used cynically (is it bad as long as it promotes the goal? a point for thought). How as leaders and entrepreneurs, do we see ourselves as agents of real change on the path to creating a society and companies with greater diversity? Beyond the fact that it also has economic value and appeal to target audiences and other sectors - it has a great impact on the generations we will establish here and the society we promote. And it's not just a discourse of women versus men, or people with disabilities or ultra-Orthodox or Arabs - it's a much more basic discourse, of how we perceive our essence as human beings and accept someone and something different from us. How much are we willing to strive to help accommodate diversity and make them feel they belong? Because beyond doing good, it’s a huge aggregate socio-economic gain for the medium-long term.

Even as she pursued her PhD on feminism in Ireland and the Palestinian Authority, Galit was groundbreaking in her approaches to feminist leadership and gender. Her partner took a year off from his career to allow her to focus on her research while living in Ireland. This raised the question of "father’s paternity leave," which high-tech companies are trying to assimilate today. Beyond what is defined in today's law - high-tech companies are increasingly encouraging this. But the question arises - what is really going on there during the holidays? Because when you shift your focus from the startup or high-tech company, even just for a week - a lot of things happen, and the question is whether organizations really manage to enable the vacation experience for their employees.

"From taking care of our children, at the age of 50 we as employees also begin to take care of our parents. There is only a partial understanding of the ability to organize life and work, it's a constant juggle, and companies need to find a way to allow their employees to be 'parents at ease' - both men and women. This is done by cracking the right organizational structures within the company, so as not to make employees feel guilty. "

How do you do that as a manager? Create a focus group, sit down with your employees, share the thinking process with them from their point of view. Building a model together enables  listening, sets a personal example, and contributes to employment stability.

Listening to employees (and listening in general) is a strong recommendation. Even for managers - it’s not always easy to do. Sometimes, we don’t listen - not because we don’t care, but because we are afraid to deal with what will come up. For example - there are managers who don’t know how to deal with an employee who cries in front of them. They are unable to contain it. And it really is not that simple.

One of the significant tools for dealing with such situations, is empathetic listening. Just remember, that we are not the center of the story, we are there for the other side, enabling them to make their voice heard. People need people who will allow them to make their voice heard. As managers and human beings in general - we must allow those who are surrounding us to bring themselves to full expression within the boundaries that match the nature of the relationship. If we don’t listen - we may miss solutions, miss thinking outside the box, miss people. And on the side of the "speakers" - if you feel you are about to drown - raise a hand. Once you drown - it is no longer possible to raise a hand and swim.

Galit led and today advises Power in Diversity, an initiative of Alan Feld, GP of Vintage Investment Partners. Alan had a vision to create an Israeli society with more equality & diversity. The initiative nowadays has more than 170 startups, 60 VCs who support it and the idea is to instill values ​​of diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging.

The question arises - how do you turn this from a trend and high sounding words, into practice? First, harness as many people for whom justice and social change are important. Then - assimilate tools on a regular basis. For example - create models of mentoring & training leaders, provide them with AN access to knowledge and data, do surveys, check people analytics, analyze the organization and create a snapshot of the current situation.

The second question asked is - who in the company should own and lead the Diversity & inclusion efforts? When there is a strong and strategic HR function - it will work great. If the CEO does not engrave on his.her flag to promote these issues - it will not work. One should understand where the power and influence factors are in the organization and harness them. Promoting CSR policy is great, but not enough. If it does not fit into the professional and business core of the organization - it will not be sustainable for long.

There is still a lot of work to be done in everything related to the integration of minorities in the industry - and make them feel part (today we are talking about diversity & belonging, not just diversity & inclusion). When an Arab engineer with 5 years of experience asks for a salary of NIS 4,500 in the recruitment process - we know that there is still a long way to go. It-Works NGO helps to reduce this gap.

Galit was the director of the Women's Lobby in Israel. There she felt up close the pay gap between women and men.

They received at the time a million euros from the EU to reduce the gender pay gap, promoted many legislative amendments and media items aimed at leading to equal pay.

The wage gap still stands at about 13% less for women today, and among the Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox - women do not hold the "earning" salaries, so the gap is much bigger.

It’s not enough to maintain a fair, decent and equal wage - it’s also important to communicate this internally into the organization and its employees - as Twitter does, when it measures itself and reports back to their employees.

Another way is to produce ERG - Employee Resource Group - integrated with management, HR, managers and employees that will allow for open dialogue, and in fact turn them into a kind of task force that is part of the process.

Instead of continuing to produce only mediated "peak events" - it is right to produce ongoing in-depth processes.

Galit's role as the director of education at the Tel Aviv Sexsual Assault Crisis Center  was a watershed for her. There she learned a different language, a different kind of listening, a different emotional containing ability and became a better and more attentive mother and principal at the same breath.

We talked about how sexual assault is an event with profound consequences, and that the numbers are not going down, alongside the awareness that is going up. We talked about the role of the organization in enabling a protected space, such that people will feel they can bring themselves freely and safely into.

In startups, we initially produce the cultural-fit that gives a lot of power and value. With the growth of the company - we move on to talk about the cultural-add. When companies double themselves in size - the organization changes, inevitably. And the ability to break away from the initial identity we all have together is difficult, alongside the fear of becoming a corporate.

Galit and her brothers have a very close relationship, and they are dominant in each other's lives. 4 years ago, they lost their brother, Oz, to violent cancer - in a period of just 10 weeks - and the loss is still present and severe. The late Oz led "Tevel", a startup in the field of AgroTech.

Eyal, their brother, replaced Oz in leading the venture.

Nowadays, Galit is co-founding a new venture - Ozz-Health - with 2 partners, in which they strive to bring a psychological & social change through technological tools.

She remembers the period of dealing with her brother’s illness as "the chase after the man with the robe." A two-sided pursuit of the patient's family and the medical staff, resulting from a sense of lack of control, insecurity, lack of knowledge and loss of time. Now, they’re building a system that is human centric and maximizes communication between all parties, striving to bring all the values ​​she believes in into the entrepreneurial experience.

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