OpinionProtecting human rights? A post won’t do
Protecting human rights? A post won’t do
"If the local tech ecosystem wants to safeguard human rights in Israel, its tech leaders should articulate a clear policy in case the government tables or passes discriminating legislation," writes Eyal Goldman
It seems that 2023 is poised to be a year of legislative initiatives that will set Israel years back when it comes to human rights. To prevent this from happening, much more needs to be done than posting on social media. Don’t get me wrong, a public condemnation against discrimination is very important; but much more meaningful action has to be taken in order to neutralise the damage that the upcoming Knesset can incur in Israel’s human rights and civil rights arena.
If there is an area that Israel’s new leadership understands and cares about, it’s a stable economy and international affairs. The Start-Up Nation hosts over 400 R&D centres of global multinational corporations across the country. Imagine a scenario where the tech talent from Israel’s high-tech companies were to go on strike in the event that legislation harming human rights were to be passed. This would reduce the market’s productivity. Now imagine that their global headquarters go one step further and publish a harsh global statement against Israel’s discriminating new policy.
Does this sound like an unlikely scenario? In July 2018 the LGBTECH NGO led a massive strike and protest against the “surrogacy law” and took hundreds of companies with them. At the time, I was IBM Israel’s Spokesperson, and the local media asked whether IBM supported the strike. The answer was not only an adamant yes, but the IBM headquarters in New York also released an official statement and encouraged the Apple headquarters and other large MNCs to release a similar harsh comment. The issue became a ‘global headache’ and a much more difficult one to handle.
While statements are important, a buzz saw in Israel’s economy can be a much more tangible threat. If the local tech ecosystem wants to safeguard human rights in Israel, its tech leaders should articulate a clear policy in case the government tables or passes discriminating legislation. By most global standards, ethical professionals don’t work in places where there is discrimination. Clients, partners, or suppliers who don’t respect basic human rights go into the blacklist. It is time for the Israeli high-tech ecosystem to embrace this global standard – even if they are not obligated to do so.
Another step in this direction can be to offer each tech worker the option of taking a ‘strike day’ for a certain number of days or half-days during a given year. This would be implemented when that worker feels human rights violations are at stake and gives them the opportunity to march, protest or volunteer. A strong demonstration of a company’s core values would be shown by senior management marching alongside their colleagues and speaking out publicly against discrimination. By doing so, a much more lasting impact can be achieved; the company’s executives will receive much more credit from their teams, while strengthening their employee brand.
Nowadays, to rely on a post on LinkedIn will actually be more of a pink wash than real genuine protest.
Eyal Goldman is a Brand Innovation Consultant. He served previously as VP Brand & Communications at Start-Up Nation Central, and IBM Israel’s External Relations Director