An Arab Muslim student, a secular Jewish software developer, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish testing engineer, and an Arab Christian software development team lead all walk into a meeting room. Nope, this isn’t the beginning of a bar joke. This is real life at Amdocs.
If you’re wondering what happens in the meeting room, the answer is R&D magic. I should know, I’m the Arab Christian team lead. And it’s because of our many stripes and colors that the magic can happen.
The talk surrounding diversity intensified at Amdocs nearly a decade ago. We started to have real discussions about diversity and inclusion and joined training sessions that were designed to show how diverse teams are more successful than uniform ones. I remember thinking, if this makes business sense, it must have the same implications for the society at large. Indeed, when I became pregnant with my daughter a couple of years later, I knew it made sense – not just for me personally, but for the wider society -- to send her to a mixed Arab-Jewish daycare center that had opened in my hometown of Haifa.
R&D: Research and Diversity
Despite the focus on diversity, it wasn’t until I transferred to working in R&D at the Ra’anana office that I was able to experience it firsthand. Until then, my team in the Haifa office was more or less homogenous. With the move, I began managing people from all walks of life, and overnight my day-to-day interactions changed drastically. When I encountered someone who is different from me, someone I may not have understood, I automatically felt a sense of discomfort. But it is precisely because I was no longer in my comfort zone, that I worked harder. I had to prove myself. And the process led me to becoming more open. My relationships with my colleagues blossomed as a result.
"When I encounter someone who is different from me, it makes me work harder." - Areen Salman-Mattar, Software Development Team Lead, Amdocs
Looking back at how far we’ve come
Amdocs has much to be proud of on this front. We are the number one tech employer for Arab society in Israel, with a 5.5% Arab workforce (compared with 2% national benchmark). It isn’t just out of a sense of CSR duty that the company invests in the Arab sector, it’s also strategic. Amdocs knows that quality talent exists in Arab society. It’s why the Nazareth branch has transformed from being a customer service center to becoming an R&D center.
Still, there’s lots of work to be done. Case in point? I’m often the only woman in the room. And I’m the only woman in my team.
Setting goals for the future
It’s the reason why I took it upon myself to volunteer with Amdocs’ mentoring program, in partnership with the NGO “Education for Excellence,” becoming a mentor for young Arab women and girls. The idea is to promote STEM education and expose them to the hi-tech industry. Pre-corona, we visited high schools and elementary schools in Arab cities and now we do it virtually. While the volunteer work fulfills me, I truly hope that by the time my daughter is old enough to work, such programs will no longer need to exist.
Women in Tech aims to showcase Amdocs’ female talent by making sure they’re front and center of all our communication channels, our internal TV screens and portal, and of course the company’s social media channels.