Israeli LGBTQs Aren’t Putting Up With Discrimination in the Startup Nation

The LGBTech organization was established in order to increase awareness in the business sector in Israel of the needs and feelings of employees from the LGBT community.

When Raffi Margaliot, senior vice president of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Israel (which will soon be called Micro Focus), was preparing for his first talk with 200 employees of the firm, to which he was returning as VP after six years in San Francisco, all the phones in his home began to ring. Just then his former partner, a participant in the Israeli reality show “Master Chef,” was on television, and in that episode he was preparing an apology cake and describing how he had cheated on Margaliot in the past. “It was clear to me that in the talk to be held the next day, I would have to discuss that issue too,” he said.

The next day Margaliot really did open the meeting with the words: “I’m 37 years old, I have a partner [in Hebrew it was clear that he was referring to a male partner], and three children.” The nonchalant message went over easily. “It was a great success,” says Margaliot, one of the few CEOs in Israel who heads a large firm and has been out of the closet for a long time. “I turned the story into a ‘non-issue’ instead of a gossip-column item,” he says.

Last Friday 200,000 people participated in the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv. Among the marchers were families with children, high school students and retirees, and gay pride flags could be seen in every corner of the city. But Margaliot admits that this demonstration of strength doesn’t necessarily represent the feeling of workers who belong to the community. He said that there was a long period in his professional life when he didn’t feel entirely comfortable announcing his lifestyle in the workplace.

“I can easily remember the years when I couldn’t find a way to tell people at work that I’m a homo,” he says, using the Hebrew term, which is not pejorative. “Today, part of my job is to serve as a role model. I assume that it will be easier for my employees to come out of the closet. For an entire year I occasionally passed by the desk of one of the employees who displayed a gay pride flag – and I thought how great it is for him that he has no problem with displaying it. It took me a long time to hang a flag of my own in my office,” he adds. Today Margaliot is considered one of the role models in the Israeli LGBT community, which is still not used to senior executives in the business world who proclaim their sexual proclivity. Continue reading in Haaretz