We begin our work rooted in the belief that reformulating hiring and employment processes are key leverage points for Jewish organizations as they begin to address gender biases. In order for the change we seek to become embedded in our communal organizations and our individual actions, we must dig deeply into cultures of bias--and build capacity to recognize and correct these biases as we build support systems to align our employment practices with our Jewish values of equality and fairness.
Building an ecosystem and network of support helps us to think collaboratively, creatively, and differently as we solve work this challenge. This is why we do this work together. We strive to bring multiple perspectives and networks to our effort. Our decades of experience working with Jewish organizations and communities enable us to weave networks of partners, challenge the status quo, pivot to greater inclusivity, and demonstrate how to do so while living by our Jewish values.
In 2018, our work began with a call to action.
As a community, we talk about respectful, equitable workplaces, and we’re making some real strides. But hiring at the top of our Jewish organizations hasn’t yet seen the progress needed to catch up. We began with an invitation to change the conversation around gender in the Jewish community and to hold our organizations accountable for progress toward change.
2019: Learning and Listening
Sitting with our growing network of female partners and thought leaders across our community, we used the frame of empathetic listening to learn about their experiences and generate ideas for the work ahead. This grew into a reading group that we hoped would inform our process, help us to frame issues, and ground our work in research.
Gender Equity Advocates
We prototyped our first Gender Equity Advocates cohorts and workshops in early 2019, welcoming four cohorts. Our Gender Equity Advocates Network was born, weaving a community of passionate emerging activists embedded in Jewish organizations, lifting voices for change both big and small in hiring, advancement and employment. Our initial work, funded by a Seeds of Innovation grant from the Jewish Theological Seminary, followed by generous funding from the Safety Respect Equity Network, enabled us to lay a foundation for dialogue in the community about shifting the status quo and tapping into the immense potential in our human resources, so that we are truly able to help women and people of all genders rise into senior leadership. In November 2019, we implemented an experiment in collaborative transparency by inaugurating a salary-sharing spreadsheet for Jewish communal professionals. With over 700 unique contributions, we analyzed and shared the data for communal use, as a resource for benchmarking salaries and engaging in market research, in our communal reach toward pay equity--and for those organizations striving to create compensation philosophies as well.
2020: Unexpected Shifts and Growth
While spring 2020 brought “pivot” to the Jewish communal vocabulary as a global pandemic unfolded, we recognized new opportunities to raise up a dialogue about advancement and termination. We added four additional Gender Equity Advocates cohorts, now virtual, reaching a much more diverse cross-section of the community, both geographically and demographically. Summer 2020 offered us the chance to gather with other early-stage organizations in the Upstart New York Entrepreneur Sprint in collaboration with UJA Federation of Greater New York, as we set up our work for future success. Our learning, consultations, and working groups engaged our community across geographic lines thanks to the emergence of technology, and flexible work time and space that enabled us to get work done in new ways, in spite of the challenges and constraints of the “she-cession,” and offered us powerful new collaborations with partners across the country.
2021: Weaving Our Networks Toward Action
Change happens at the organizational level, and at the same time, our professional community is made up of brave, strong voices who act with courage. From demanding that all Jewish organizations list open positions with a transparent salary range to advocating for ethical terminations to contemplating the power of title and role, we have gathered Jewish professionals interested in weaving networks of like-minded colleagues around advocacy and learning, toward action. Our Salary Range Transparency Working Group is one extraordinary example of this advocacy: we are shifting the field toward the inclusion of salary ranges on every job posting across the Jewish community, and we’ll advocate until this becomes the norm.
Advocacy for our colleagues and strengthening our organizations is one place to start, and we also strive to advocate for ourselves, building individual capacities for self-advocacy. With that in mind, we launched Ask For It, a Negotiation Workshop and coaching model that supports women and non-binary folks who are striving to reimagine and describe their value, and gather the necessary data to make the claim that they deserve more. Nearly 100 women have already invested in their own success as they are asking for what they deserve, and diffusing the power of their advocacy by modeling their new skills with others.
2022: Growing Forward
Investing in women’s leadership matters now more than ever. If we are able to make this commitment, we take a step toward a real, concrete and measurable investment in real equity, in the talent and the potential of people of all genders, all races, all backgrounds and abilities, across our Jewish community, allowing our equity lens to widen our ripples of impact.
We look toward 2022 with excitement as our Advisory Circle will begin to guide and design our vision into the next years. This circle embraces our shared belief in transparency, inviting a networked leadership model of governance that will allow us to experiment with collaboration and growth, and rely on the powerful wisdom that our advisors bring with them. We continue to listen to our community as issues emerge around which we can advocate. Our work continues to evolve, in partnership with you!