Israeli cybersecurity company EverCompliant employs about twice as many women as the average tech company. Its secret? Choose the best candidate, said company founder and CEO Ron Teicher.
“It’s not a deliberate decision, it just happened. We’ve had people coming and interviewing and in most cases the lady candidate was better,” Teicher said. “As a father to two daughters I’m very, very proud of it.”
Women account for 26% of the some 140,000 people who work in R&D in Israel, or some 36,000 women, according to Innovation Authority data. About 60% of EverCompliant’s 60 employees are women, Teicher said, and most are involved in R&D.
The company, founded in 2008, provides tools to banks, payment service providers and online marketplaces to combat transaction laundering, which is basically money laundering in the digital age. EverCompliant is able to look into its client’s portfolios and identify links with potential criminals using its cyber intelligence capabilities.
“It’s essentially not allowing criminals or terrorists to put bad money into their payment system so it’s blended,” Teicher said.
Transaction laundering is a major concern for businesses because they can be held liable for crimes abetted by their systems.
Teicher attributes the company’s unusually high proportion of women employees to a simple lack of prejudice in the hiring process. He speculates that some employers may be reluctant to hire women because they may need to miss work due to a pregnancy, for example.
“In this company I feel 100% equal,” said Lital Mor, EverCompliant’s director of customer success. Mor manages 17 employees and deals with customers on a day to day basis.
Mor believes the situation for women in high tech in Israel is better than in other areas, partly due to the military.
“The military is a huge part in really building personality and providing skills,” Mor said. “It brings you to a certain level of equivalence.”
Teicher concurs, saying the IDF prefers to have female soldiers in certain positions.
“People leave the military with skills,” Teicher said. “And also the understanding that they have equal skills so I think that is also helping afterwards in the workplace.”
There are still real problems, in Israel and elsewhere, though, partly related to education. In Israel, half of the high school students who complete their matriculation in the highest levels of math are women, but just one third of them go on to tech and science studies at universities — in the fields of computer sciences, electric and electronic engineering or other similar fields — compared with 66% of boys.
The main obstacles for women and girls, according to a study by Israel’s National Economic Council, are gender stereotyping, an unreceptive environment in science classes, a low self-image regarding capabilities, a lack of knowledge about possibilities, a lack of role models and the need to balance work and private life.
Teicher has heard the discrepancy in education cited as a reason for the lack of women in the field, but said that he has had an equal number of men and women apply for jobs at the company.
There are also issues within the culture, Mor said, although less so in Israel.
“We do see a gap and most executive positions are held by men. Terms like entrepreneur and taking risk are associated with men,” Mor said. “Maybe women are holding back from these positions to begin with because it’s a field dominated by men, but when they do enter, especially in Israel, they find the right path.”
Teicher believes the situation will improve, partly due to a trend toward more women studying engineering and related fields.