by Billy Linehan

There were over 800 attendees at an Israeli corporate social responsibility conference, Maala Conference 2018 ‘Innovation for Good’ in Tel Aviv recently.

Maala is a non-profit corporate membership organisation promoting corporate social responsibility
(CSR) in Israel. They have developed a rating system that annually rates around 25% of the largest companies in Israel. The rating serves as an internal management tool as well as a benchmark for Israeli performance on environmental, social and governance standards (ESG), following local priorities. Based on the annual rating, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) has created a family of
SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) Indexes.

The conference brought together senior representatives of Israeli and international companies and opinion leaders from the international CSR community, Israel’s business community, ESG analysts and more.

The conference opened with Maala CEO, Momo Mahadav, interviewing key speakers on the theme “Business Impact on Inclusive Growth in Israel and Globally”.

Speakers included Shamina Singh, President of the MasterCard Centre for Inclusive Growth, Steven Berkenfeld, Managing Director, Investment Banking at Barclays Capital, Dr. Sigal Shelach, CEO at JDC Israel, from Ireland Tech Journalist Ciara Byrne, Prof. David Grayson, Professor at Cranfield School of Management and Hugh Wheelan, Managing Editor at Responsible Investor.

Amsterdam based journalist Ciara Byrne spoke about her experience when she won a Fellowship at the Blue Ridge Labs in New York where innovators are supported “to build products for communities overlooked by technology. Inequality is not only about income”, she commented, “it also can be about time, health and sleep”.

She illustrated her talk with two US examples, Alice Financial (@AliceFinancial) gives hourly workers a method of managing their benefits via an App, and adds to employee paychecks. ‘Fresh EBT’ (@FreshEBT) is another successful innovation, and was built to create an easy digital experience for Food Stamp participants in the USA.

The conference was structured into several tracks inviting panels to discuss Empowering Employees in a Changing World of Work, Content meets Values meets Branding, the ESG & Impact Investment, the LGBT Community and the Workforce, CSR for Board members and Engaging Communities and Customers in the Digital Era.

The second day of the conference consisted of immersive tours to gain insights into practices of Israeli companies, social enterprises and start-up labs. The visits comprised of connecting with local market-leaders in different sectors, providing insights into Israeli businesses’ pioneering practices, InfraLab Haifa, Santara Ventures and also visits to Arab and Haredi (Jewish ultra-orthodox) employment centres.

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