The woman to change the Bank of Israel

AuthorHadas Magen
Publication Date01 Mar 2021
"For a conservative entity like the Bank of Israel, what we did was a revolution," says Geri. "Up until the coronavirus, the perception was that it was impossible to work outside the building because of confidentiality. With the outbreak of the pandemic, this approach was upended."

The bank pulled 15 computers out of its safe, bought another 685, and moved all of its employees to remote work. "Everything worked like a Swiss watch" Geri says with pride.

Well, you know, there's hardly an entity - including huge institutions - that hasn't made that move during Covid-19.

"But as I said, the Bank of Israel is very conservative in many ways. And when I ask myself, where can we go with remote work, now that we see it's possible, it's an opportunity to make a profound cultural change in the public sphere."

What, for instance?

"We're giving this issue deep consideration, and examining the model of continued partial work from home that will allow employees more flexibility. At the same time, we're also considering introducing a hybrid model enabling a more flexible use of bank office-space. We've had a space shortage here, and this may save resources. Remote work also offers options for 'diversity hiring' - we already have a hundred employees who fit this category - but it opens up more options: for example, employing people who live far away."

You can view Geri's enthusiasm with skepticism, but she certainly has plans for tackling quite a few issues at in the institution in need of attention. "It's very important to make organizational changes and remove bureaucratic barriers because we waste a lot of time on these things," she says. "We love our procedures, but we have to allow enable things to work faster. Bureaucracy has to be minimal, whether in finance or procurement. We went through a process like this at the Weizmann Institute, and I believe we'll make a change here as well. Although we're a public institution, we need to act like a private entity that understands the meaning of time. I want lean and rapid procedures that will allow us to concentrate on what's most important. We shouldn't be thinking about why things are not allowed, but instead about how we can allow them."

But Geri's vision is liable to clash with the bank's employees and their union - one of the country's most powerful. Just last week, a lawsuit filed by the Bank of Israel's National Workers Committee in with the Labor Court revealed that the transition to remote work had begun as early as 2019 - the trend only intensifying during the Covid-19 period - and that remote employees were not compensated for overtime. This puts the support on the part of the workers, which Geri so admires, in a slightly different light. (She says of the lawsuit that, "The Bank of Israel fulfills all its legal obligations to its employees, including overtime pay").

Geri, in any case, praises the staff's contribution during Covid-19: "We set up a special coronavirus portal for our researchers that constantly updates all kinds of economic indicators for all kinds of outcomes of economic activity, and is updated once a week. It...

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