Blog Post

No Easy Answers: Five Ways Organizations Are Addressing the Israel-Hamas Conflict

By Diana Forster
June 4, 2024

Are you struggling with how – or even if – to address the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict with your employees? You’re not alone. Student protests against the conflict have led to turmoil on university campuses across the country, even upending planned commencement ceremonies. Organizations are also feeling the effects, even when they don’t have employees in the affected regions.

On May 17, Seramount conducted an Employee Voice Session (EVS), an anonymous virtual focus group, for Chief Diversity Officers and other diversity leaders who wished to express their concerns about the conflict and its effects on their employees. We found that DEI leaders are struggling to address the conflict, and many organizations have avoided discussing it at all.

Leaders Find This Situation Uniquely Challenging

DEI leaders agree that there isn’t a single ideal way to frame the discussion of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Leaders and their organizations find this to be a uniquely challenging issue to discuss due to the complexity, the intersections with religion and ethnicity, and the strongly held feelings on all sides. Specifically, they struggled to ensure that their Jewish employees feel safe among rising anti-Semitism, while also supporting Muslim employees and others. Many expressed concerns about saying the “right thing” when communicating with all employees.

Some Organizations Have Refrained from Addressing the Issue

Likely due to this widespread uncertainty, many leaders and organizations have avoided addressing the issue at all since October. Listening sessions and other forums for discussion are rare outside of those organized by Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). DEI leaders noted that most activity occurred in the fall of 2023 as the conflict began and has dropped off since.

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Employees Have a Range of Responses

Leaders have observed a wide range of responses to the conflict from their employees, from vocal activism to strong disengagement. 

Have your employees been vocal internally on this issue?

Despite Concerns, Few Organizations Have Been Directly Affected by Protests

Nearly half of DEI leaders report being at least somewhat concerned about protests on college campuses, but few indicated that their organizations have been directly affected by them.

How concerned are you about employee protests or activism within your company?

Faith-Based ERGs Have Been Helpful

About one-third of leaders reported that their organizations have added or are considering adding faith-based ERGs since Oct. 7. However, others have declined to establish them or even put off launching planned religious or interfaith ERGs due to the conflict.

For more results from the session and access to other Seramount resources on the topic, join Seramount and read the full report of the results.

About the Author

Diana Forster
Director of Qualitative Research