Diversity, belonging, equality and gender are important to incorporate in all aspects of life. As leaders and entrepreneurs, how do we see ourselves as agents of real change on the path to creating a society with companies that have greater diversity? Beyond the fact that diversity has economic value and appeals not only to target audiences but other sectors as well, it has a great impact on future generations and the society we promote. Diversity isn’t just a discourse of women VS men, or people with disabilities, or ultra-Orthodox Jews or Arabs - it's much more basic- the discourse of how we perceive our essence as human beings and accept someone different from us. How much are we willing to strive to help accommodate diversity and make others feel like they belong? Beyond doing good, it’s a huge aggregate for medium and long-term socio-economic gain.
As she pursued her Ph.D. on feminism in Ireland and the Palestinian Authority, Galit took ground-breaking 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 beyond what is defined in today's law, high-tech companies are increasingly encouraging this and trying to assimilate it into their companies. But the question arises - what is going on during that time off? Because when you take time off in a start-up or high-tech company, even if it’s just for one week, a lot can happen in the interim. So, the question remains: can organizations manage to enable such leaves 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. Managing and balancing life and work is 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, to not 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 and allow them to give 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 highly recommended. 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, some managers don’t know how to deal with an employee who cries in front of them, so they do what they can to avoid it.
One of the significant tools for dealing with such situations is empathetic listening. Just remember that we as managers (and people) are not the center of the story so we are only there to lend support; we are there to allow others to make their voices heard Being heard is so crucial for us as human beings. As managers (human beings in general), we must allow those 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 so someone can help you swim. Once you’re too far gone and have already drowned - it is no longer possible to raise that hand.
Galit leads and advises Power in Diversity, an initiative of Alan Feld, GP of Vintage Investment Partners. Alan had the vision to create an Israeli society with more equality and diversity. The initiative now has more than 170 start-ups, and 60 VCs who support it - all with the hopes of instilling values of diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging.
The question arises - how do you turn this from a trend into actual practice? First, harness as many people for whom justice and social change are important. Then, use tools to enforce it regularly. For example, create models of mentoring and training leaders, provide them with 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 lead the diversity and inclusion efforts? When there is a strong and strategic HR function - it will work great. If the CEO does not prioritize promoting these issues - it will not hold. One should understand where the power and influential factors are within the organization and harness them. Promoting CSR policies is great, but not enough. If it does not fit into the professional and business core of the organization - it will not be sustainable long-term.
There is still a lot of work to be done to integrate minorities in the industry and make them feel welcome- Nowadays, 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, whereas an Israel with equivalent skills and experience would ask for a minimum of NIS 20 000 starting salary, 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 the pay gap between women and men up close. At the time, they received a million euros from the EU to reduce the gender pay gap and promoted many legislative amendments and media campaigns aimed at equal pay.The wage gap still stands at about 13% less for women today, and among the Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox, women aren't expected to work, so the gap is much bigger.
It’s not enough just to maintain a fair, decent and equal wage, it is also crucial to communicate its importance internally in the organization and to its employees, just as Twitter does; they measure themselves and report back to their employees.
Another way is to produce ERG, an Employee Resource Group, and integrate it into management, HR, and employees that will allow for open dialogue. ERG should be integrated so much so that it is almost like it is part of the business. Instead of producing mediated "peak events" the goal should be to produce ongoing, in-depth processes.
Galit's role as the director of education at the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center was a turning point for her. There she learned a different language, a different kind of listening, a different way to contain emotions, and became a better and more attentive mother and principal in the same breath.
We talked about how sexual assault is an event with profound consequences, and that the numbers are not going down, even though the awareness is going up. We talked about the role companies have in creating a protected space, so that people can feel safe and free to be themselves.
In start-ups, there is an initial culture that plays a huge role and has a lot of value in the company. However, with a company's growth, such as when it doubles in size like so many start-ups do, the organization inevitably changes. The ability to break away from the initial identity we all have together is difficult, alongside the fear of becoming too corporate, which is why “cultural-add” is so important.
Galit and her brothers have a very close relationship, and all play a dominant role in each other's lives. 4 years ago, they lost their brother, Oz, in just 10 weeks to a particularly vicious case of cancer. The loss they feel is still very present and severe. The late Oz led "Tevel", a start-up 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 psychological and social change through technological tools.
When dealing with her brother's illness, she realized that the whole time, she, and her family had to constantly chase after the doctors to understand what was going on in her brother's case. This led her family, her brother, and herself to feel a complete lack of control, heightened their insecurity about the situation, exacerbated their lack of knowledge, and, of course, wasted lots of time. That is why they started Ozz Medical; they wanted to build a system that maximizes communication between all parties involved in medical situations- doctors, patients, and families alike- for a human-centric experience. She strives to bring all the values she believes in into the entrepreneurial experience.