Ikea Israel apologises for all-male catalogue

The furniture company distributed a brochure designed for ultra-orthodox Jewish customers, featuring no women or girls

Ikea Israel apologises for all-male catalogue

While this year's regular Ikea Israel catalogue cover features three women and one man, the one aimed at the Haredi community features no women at all [Twitter]

Ikea, the Swedish flat-pack furniture giant, is taking flak after producing a special version of its famous catalogue for its Israeli customers, featuring no women at all. Prepared for the orthodox Haredi Jewish community, the scandal mirrors a similar one Ikea weathered in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post first reported that households in the Haredi communities had been posted a special version of the annual brochure of Ikea products. The glossy pages of the catalogue included only pictures of men and boys, but “unlike the standard Ikea catalogue, no daughters, sisters or mother accompany those fathers and sons,” the paper reported.

Swedish outcry

In Sweden, known for its progressive stance on closing the gender gap, the orthodox version has drawn comparisons to a case from 2012 when women were digitally deleted from the pages of the Ikea catalogue in Saudi Arabia. At the time, Ikea officially apologised and called the incident “unfortunate,” after a number of politicians complained.

The new Israeli catalogue has also seen a public outcry on Swedish social media, with an Ikea spokesman telling The Local that the all-male pages do not adhere to the company’s ethical standards.

An image from the pages of the Israeli Ikea catalogue, featuring no women or girls in its entirety [Twitter]

“What happened here is that the local Israeli Ikea organisation distributed a brochure to a religious ultra-orthodox minority group in an attempt to reach the minority with commercial messages. Ikea, globally as well as in Sweden, is clear on our view that the local brochure doesn’t live up to out values and what Ikea stands for,” said Jakob Holmström.

“Ikea is for many people and we want to respect local traditions and needs. That is also an aspect of not discriminating. But, we are convinced that it is possible to unite. Ikea in Israel obviously failed to do that. We want to be clear that Ikea Group in Sweden and globally does not stand behind the local brochure, and be clear on the fact that it does not live up to the Ikea Group values and what Ikea stands for.”

Targeted advertising

In addition to removing all traces of women from the catalogue, including the clothes hanging in the wardrobe images, the orthodox-friendly catalogue focussed on items of furniture particularly popular among the traditionally large Haredi families.

In deference to Israel’s Jewish culture, all Ikea stores in the country have kosher restaurants and are closed on the Jewish Sabbath and religious holidays.

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