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Salesforce Employees & Tsofen Prepare Israel’s Arab Students for Jobs in Tech

By Nancy Refki September 20, 2021

At Salesforce our vision has always been to ensure that everyone has equal access to quality education, a meaningful career, and the opportunity to reach their full potential. One of our focus areas in Philanthropy is workforce development. Far too many people from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds are overlooked for training and career opportunities despite being filled with drive, intelligence, and potential. Let’s zoom in on Israel; together with our partner, Tsofen, we are looking to ensure untapped talent can build social capital and achieve economic prosperity.

Salesforce employees have been supporting Tsofen for the past four years. Employees volunteer their time with local Arab Israeli youth (16-24 years old) preparing them for higher education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and successful careers in the technology sector after their schooling ends. This initiative has been made possible through collaboration with Tsofen, a local nonprofit organization launched in 2008 by Arab and Jewish founders to promote high-tech careers in Arab society as a lever for economic development and the creation of a shared society for Arabs and Jews in Israel.

Driven by a vision of a shared society, Tsofen aims to promote fair representation of Arabs in Israel’s booming hi-tech industry. Tsofen’s mission is to integrate Arabs into Israel’s hi-tech sector and to bring high-tech firms to Arab cities. Tsofen is working on three main impact areas:

  1. Breaking barriers for Arab talents within the high-tech industry
  2. Placing thousands of Arab engineers in jobs and working to make recruitment and hiring policies more inclusive
  3. Lobbying with local governments with the aim to make national policy changes.

People standing in Salesforce office
Salesforce employees in Israel volunteer their time to mentor local Arab Israeli youth for successful careers in the tech industry.

Through its diversity and inclusion efforts, Tsofen partners with Arab Force, an equality-driving task force within Salesforce Israel. Arab Force works in partnership with civil society leaders to promote diversity and inclusion efforts. This task force supports Tsofen’s work by leading future readiness and workforce development programs in Israel via:

1. Educational and career exposure activities for high school, college, and university students, and graduates pursuing STEM studies. Due to under-representation in the industry, these students and young graduates have minimal exposure to the high-tech ecosystem.

As part of these activities, participants visit Salesforce offices (in Nazareth or Tel-Aviv), meet with Arab and Jewish developers, and learn about their career paths, and about the challenges and rewards in their daily work.

These activities always prove effective in: (1) inspiring participants to become part of the global hi-tech culture, (2) motivating them by demonstrating (through the personal stories of role models) that a career in hi-tech is a viable option for them, and (3) encouraging them to take the next step towards that path.

2. Workforce development programs for academic students and recent graduates from technological degree programs, including applied training and mentorship. In Tsofen’s mentorship program, Salesforce employees provide mentoring to Arab job candidates who prepare for the job market, and give them helpful tools, advice, and ongoing support towards successful integration in the high-tech workforce. Mentee Sara Khatib said:

“This program was a successful way for me to take my first professional step into the high-tech industry. My mentor Karim Fanadka was very invested in guiding me. He made sure we took small but effective steps, and he personalized our meetings according to my knowledge and needs…I became so motivated both by the mentors and by Tsofen that I myself volunteer with Tsofen to raise exposure to high-tech among high school Arab students.“

Tsofen mentor graphic

Salesforce employees participate in Tsofen’s various network events — such as meet-ups, career fairs, makeathons, and hackathons — during which they share their expertise and guidance with job candidates and junior engineers, and help build a strong professional network for Arab high-tech engineers.

Support Tsofen, and learn more about how to help students launch a career in the Salesforce economy.

About the Author

Nancy Refki, Program Manager, Employee Engagement, Philanthropy
Nancy Refki
Program Manager, Employee Engagement, Philanthropy for
Nancy Refki has a strong background in international development & nonprofit programming. Nancy partners with nonprofit organizations across EMEA to co-create impactful volunteering programs aimed to help Salesforce employees to volunteer and give back to their communities. Her speciality is workforce development and education programs for children and youth. Connect with her on Linkedin.