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Israel’s Civil Society and Us: Leadership, Values and Collective Impact

Posted on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 by Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi

In Photo: Collective Impact leadership meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, July 2017

Emerging from a year of intensive work by Wexner Israel and Graduate Fellowship Alumni, Wexner Heritage Alumni and Wexner Senior Leaders all working together through the Summit "Stronger Together: (Re)Imagining the North American Israeli Relationship", a three-pronged project has emerged to improve civil society in Israel and to strengthen leadership and business relationships with North American groups. Our Summit project, entitled "CIVL: Collective Impact, Values and Leadership", works to help build and sustain core aspects of Israel’s civil society through business leadership, text study, and the development of shared diversification strategies.

The Wexner Summit CIVL Project was launched because of the success of the Collective Impact project in Israel — founded by Wexner Israel Fellowship Alumni -- as the first prong of the project, which has successfully engaged more than 10 of Israel’s largest companies in integrating over 700 Arab workers, by convincing the companies that diversification of the workforce improves their bottom line in addition to building a stronger civil society.  A recent article appeared in the Israeli newspaper The Marker, describing the meeting and the success of the initiative (see below).

The second prong of the project is the business Leadership work. Members of the Wexner Summit team work with business schools in North America as well as other related industry leaders in order to share and strengthen the knowledge and capacities of both North American and Israeli business leaders in diversifying their companies' workforce as good business practice

The third prong of the project is the Values curriculum for business leaders. Wexner Summit CIVL project leaders developed a leadership study curriculum for the Israeli Arab, Christian and Jewish business leaders. Through intensive study of Jewish, Muslim and Christian texts on pluralism, diversity and ethics, the curriculum will help the leadership of the initiative and key company mentors and human resource directors to deepen their understanding, and to amplify mutual respect and to create a multi-cultural and multi-faith company environment in which Arab workers, as well as Jewish ones, can thrive. Such knowledge and commitment serves to create greater retention and more promotions throughout the industry.  Additionally, the learning will increase the capacity to transcend cultural and political challenges as well as achieve long-term goals for business diversification and the creation of a stronger and more successful civil society.

Our goal is to augment diversity in the Israeli work force and to increase the number of Arabs working in the business sector. The companies we are working with include Coca Cola, Microsoft, Law Offices of Herzog, Fox and Neeman, Osem, Amdocs, Teva and others. These corporations have launched our initiative primarily because it leads to higher profits -- it is simply good business practice and, at the same time, helps to build a strong civil society in Israel. Our job is not done with the hiring of Israeli Arabs, we also give tools for successful integration.  

Just last month, in July 2017, 13 Collective Impact business and NGO leaders met for a third time with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the President’s Residence (see photo) where they presented the results of our Collective Impact initiative. The report we presented to the President included impressive metrics:

Because of our work, seven companies absorbed and integrated more than 500 Arab workers in 2016 and thus exceeded the goals that had originally been set by 199% in less than a year. Two of the companies already report 14% of their workers are Arab (only a year earlier it was 6%). Since Collective Impact began, Arab representation in these seven companies has increased by 85%. Between April 2016 through June 2017 the companies absorbed 722 Arabs, of whom 200 are in the areas of administration.   As of June 2017, the companies have achieved 45% of the goals that they established for the year.

The CIVL Values Curriculum will be launched in 2017 and business leadership practice development continues to grow. 

Wexner Foundation Alumni who wish to contribute knowledge and/or resources toward any element of the project should be in touch with:

Yifat Ovadia (WIF Alum), Marc Suvall (WHP Alum), or Rachel Sabath Beit Halachmi and Yehuda Bernstein (WGF Alumni).  

 Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi, Ph.D. (WGF Alum, Class 3) serves the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion as the National Director of Recruitment and Admissions, President's Scholar and Director of the Office of Community Engagement. Ordained at HUC-JIR in New York, Rachel earned a Ph.D. in Jewish philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Prior to this appointment in 2013 Rachel served as Vice President of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and for 12 years as a member of the Institute's faculty, while directing the Hartman Lay leadership, Rabbinic leadership, and Christian leadership programs. Concurrently, she also taught liturgy and theology at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem for 10 years. Rachel has also studied at Hebrew University, the Pardes Institute, and Drisha Institute. For several years Rabbi Sabath wrote a monthly column in the Jerusalem Post and also writes regularly for The Huffington Post, The Times of Israel, Sh'ma and other publications.  Rachel is currently writing a book on the future of Jewish Peoplehood. Rachel can be reached at rshabbat@gmail.com.