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Businesses in Israel Respond to COVID-19

Published 04-13-20

Submitted by Maala - Business for Social Responsibility

PHOTO CREDIT: Netanel Tobias

As in past times of crisis, Covid-19 raises the fundamental and unequivocal public expectation from Israeli businesses – to contribute to the best of their abilities to social solidarity among different segments of society.

Maala, a national-based network of responsible businesses, has been collecting leading examples of Israeli businesses' contribution and social investment around four main pillars:  

1.     supporting employees - keeping them on the payroll vs. temporary unpaid leave entitling unemployment benefits (the Israeli government decided to extend unemployment benefits rather than supporting employers to keep their employees on the payroll). We’ve seen extensive efforts in internal corporate communications to enhance employees' and their families’ well-being, i.e. sponsoring subscriptions to virtual workout & exercise platforms. The most advanced example is online training to enhance digital orientation and skills for remote working.  

2.     Corporate support to NGOs and communities – Corporate Israel is accustomed to immediate community support in situations of crisis, and as in the past, there is an overwhelming effort in financing, volunteering and in-kind support with ongoing community partners as well as new ones. A unique example is offering small grants to any individuals who come up with ideas to strengthen social resilience in their communities (see Hebrew summary). This builds on an ongoing initiative.  

3.     Suppliers – focusing on the local market, which represents a substantial part of supply chains for many corporations in Israel. Many companies have made an effort to quicken payments to their suppliers, with some even declaring that they will continue to commission work from their self-employed contractors. 

4.     Customers – all business services to the public at large are regulated by the Ministry of Health, and those businesses who can continue to work are doing their best to accommodate customers with major efforts to enhance digital service platforms as well as training, expand delivery services and give assurance to the customers. There is also an evident effort to develop and offer products and services to answer the needs during these times of crisis, i.e. most of the banks allowed postponements of payments on loans and mortgages, and an insurance company offered interest-free loans to pensioners covering the decrease in monthly payments due to the financial market crash.  

The information is compiled and presented on the Maala Hebrew website according to the four main pillars (for anyone who can read Hebrew), and will soon be fully available on the English website as well.

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Maala - Business for Social Responsibility

Maala - Business for Social Responsibility

Maala is a non-profit corporate membership organization promoting ESG and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Israel. Founded in 1998, Maala is considered as the ESG standards-setting organization in Israel. Presently, the membership organization is comprised of some 130 members, Israel’s largest companies.

Maala publishes the Maala ESG indexes annually on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and as of 2016 organizes an annual international conference in Tel Aviv.

Our Mission

Helping companies increase their social and environmental impact

  • Sharing practices & mutual learning
  • Flagging priorities & developing joint initiatives
  • Setting voluntary standards for business in Israel

Driving Change through

  1. A network of 120 member companies, Israeli and global companies operating in Israel 2. A hub for sustainable business practices, solutions and cross-sector collaboration.
  2. An annual CSR index rating 153 companies, also traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Maala ESG Index Facts & Figures

  1. Over 150 companies rated. (vs. 47 when the index was launched in 2006)
    - Approx. half are of Israel’s large companies, rated on the Maala Advanced Index
    - Approx. half are of Israel’s mid-size companies, rated on the Maala Basic Index
  2. Aggregate revenue: $137 billion; over 350,000 employees
  3. TA Maala Index includes half of the total market value traded on the TASE.

Maala ESG Index Main Features

  1. National based index – a prestigious Israeli business club
  2. Local adaptation of global ESG and sustainability standards
  3. A guidebook for local expectations and priorities
  4. Reflects local market business culture

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