Q. How do I fight antisemitism in the workplace?
A. The recent headlines involving Ye, Kyrie Irving, Dave Chappelle, and others are just the latest in a string of highly disturbing antisemitic statements and incidents. In 2021, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recorded 2,717 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States — a 34% increase from 2020 and the highest number on record since ADL first began tracking antisemitic occurrences in 1979. As many as 1,496 antisemitic acts have been reported in this calendar year alone, ranging from the distribution of antisemitic propaganda to physical attacks against Jewish individuals to bomb threats.
These incidents reflect the widespread belief in false conspiracy theories and antisemitic tropes which, unfortunately, have made their way into the workplace. In a recent study published by ResumeBuilder, one in four hiring managers admitted that they are less likely to move forward with a Jewish applicant based on the belief that Jews have too much “power and control.” As many as one in six hiring managers said their management instructed them not to hire Jewish applicants, and 29% reported that antisemitism was “acceptable” at their company.
Given this alarming trend, what can employers do to combat the dramatic upswing in hate against Jewish employees?
- It is important to include issues affecting Jewish employees as part of an overall DEI strategy. Human Resources and DEI professionals should enforce a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of bias in the workplace, including bias against Jews, and should include a prohibition against antisemitism in policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment and in sensitivity and anti-bias training.
- Training should provide awareness of unconscious bias and microaggressions against Jewish culture and the way people look or dress.
- Management should be encouraged to publicly express their disapproval of the hate and antisemitic propaganda that has been in the news and express support for their Jewish colleagues.
- Companies should support the creation of Jewish employee resource groups to provide a safe forum for open discussions about antisemitism and raising awareness in the workplace.
- Human Resources should provide for accommodations for employees who need flexible schedules or time off from work for religious observances.