It is no secret that as times change and the Israeli high-tech industry grows, the job market, especially for software development and similar professions, becomes an employee’s market.
In their recent report, Ethosia (a large Israeli placement company), indicates key trends for software engineers’ positions. The average salary of a software engineer has grown steadily between 2009 and 2019 with a nominal CAGR of nearly 4% (2.7% after adjusting for inflation).
In addition to being costly and changing jobs less frequently, the engineers grew harder to find: while there is no direct indication for that in Ethosia’s report, it does mention the overall trend of companies lowering the bar of entry, allowing less formal education and less experience to fill the same positions as in previous years. The report goes as far as saying that the taboo on mediocrity is no more and companies retain or hire employees who would have been considered underperformers just a few years ago.
Under these circumstances, it seems that the disadvantages of transferring part of the software development offshore no longer outweigh the benefits for an increasing number of companies.
There are plenty of options, too: India, eastern EU countries such as Bulgaria, Romania or Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, even Uzbekistan, where the education is of high (or high enough) level to provide adequate talent, but the cost of living (and average salaries) are way smaller. And many companies do move forward with outsourcing to these locations, with varying degrees of success.
The more successful outsourcing endeavors typically involve a significant investment in travel and communications, sometimes even a relocation to the offshore site – activities designed to overcome distance, timezone, calendar, culture and language challenges.
Many of these companies overlook a large pool of high-quality workers conveniently located right under their noses: the Haredi women, and that’s while the efforts to create suitable workplace conditions for Haredi women are not particularly huge.
These suitable conditions would revolve around three key principles that are not unlike the latest trends in today’s society, namely: safe spaces, dietary limitations, and work-life balance.
To be more specific, there should be a dedicated, separate room or floor allocated for permanent seating and all meetings with men must happen in open-space or a transparent meeting room and in presence of another woman (or otherwise by the halachic law, which is not that hard to figure out). The dietary limitations (in the form of strict Kosher rules) are best handled by adding extra (and separate) microwave ovens to the kitchenettes. Finally, the company should understand that the weekend time is, indeed, holy and overtime on weekdays is only possible if remote work is allowed and even so will be very scarce.
None of these limitations are unreasonable or difficult to implement. In return, though, an employer would get numerous benefits. While many Haredi women are new to the high-tech industry and lack the necessary practical experience, they do possess the necessary skills to become productive fast. The work ethic is also usually very high. There is no language barrier: everyone speaks fluent Hebrew. There is no timezone challenge, as working hours are the same for the entire company. There are no calendar differences – everyone shares the same weekends and holidays. Finally, if the new team is located on a separate site, the travel to it is a short and inexpensive trip by car as opposed to a costly flight to another country.
Besides direct employment options, some companies specialize in recruiting and retaining talented Haredi women, so a firm that has the extra money but lacks the time will find offerings that could help bring over entire well-trained teams as well as host them on dedicated premises.
When I reached out to my friends and colleagues on the topic of employment of Haredi women, I haven’t heard a single negative opinion about the work they could do. The usual substantial issues with hiring talent are, of course, still there, but to a much lesser extent, and in general, none of my respondents described it as a mistake, while many of them named involvement of teams of Haredi women as a success.
While saving some costs and granting access to a pool of very strong talent, a move to employ Haredi women also remedies gender imbalance in the industry and improves inclusion and diversity of the workforce, as well as includes more Haredi Jews in the job market, benefitting the Israeli society in general.
An opportunity like that doesn’t happen often or last very long. And while this market is not new, it is still far from being saturated with employment opportunities.
In my opinion, companies that are struggling to fill positions definitely should consider Haredi employees as one of their top options.
So maybe your next employee could be a Haredi woman.
And maybe the right word here is “should”.