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.
Dr. Sara Shapiro-Plevan, Ed.D.
CEO and Co-Founder
Sara Shapiro-Plevan is all about relationships. Her essential focus: considering the way relationships influence the ability to improve our practice, understand our work, and engage effectively with others as we build sustainable communities and workplaces. It is in this relational space that Sara came to appreciate the roles gender, power and privilege play in understanding our workplace cultures, and refine the lens through which she views her work to support wholeness and connection on the way to equitable Jewish workplaces. Sara's work supports these Jewish organizations to develop a networked, collaborative culture, support alignment with vision, and shift from hierarchy to flatter, networked organizational structures. As part of her work, Sara coaches individuals and teams as they imagine change, inextricably intertwined with the continuum of relationships and connections that make up our communities and workplaces.
Sara holds an EdD from The William Davidson Graduate School of Education of the Jewish Theological Seminary. Her research aims to enable individuals, teams and communities to understand how they best work in relationship so that they might begin to shift their capacity to work in productive, connected ways to realize their–and their communities’–hopes and dreams. A passionate network weaver and facilitator, Sara works to build relationships to both cultivate and leverage connections to catalyze and generate positive change. Sara is the founder of Rimonim Consulting and is receiving coaching certification from CRRGlobal, with a focus on organizational and relational systems.
She holds a BA in Near Eastern and Jewish Studies from Brandeis University and an MA in Jewish Education from JTS, and was a fellow in the Senior Educators Program of the Melton Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora at Hebrew University. Sara also holds a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate from the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida. She is a mikveh guide and volunteer at ImmerseNYC, New York’s Jewish community mikveh. Sara proudly uses sports metaphors in her work (albeit often incorrectly), thanks to her husband and son, who are both Knicks and Mets fans.
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!
The Gender Equity in Hiring Project is fiscally sponsored by Jumpstart. Jumpstart was founded in 2008 as a “thinkubator” for new approaches to building organizations within and beyond the Jewish community. The impetus was an explosion of creative social entrepreneurship giving shape to emergent projects growing outside the walls of institutional organizations. This new approach was evidenced across faith communities as creative leaders sought ways to express their values using the latest tools and technologies for social benefit and community building.
The SRE Network works to ensure safe, respectful and equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces by addressing sexual harassment, sexism and gender discrimination. They believe that we are called upon by the ethical standards of our tradition to address these issues within our community, as well as to lend our voices and action to the national movement seeking a culture shift in our country.
To that end, SRE brings together organizations, funders, individuals and experts to help create lasting, systemic change. The role of SRE is to serve as catalyst and resource: we aim to support, coordinate and amplify change in individual organizations as well as accelerate a broader cultural shift.
The Collective is an active, ongoing community where visionary entrepreneurs and leaders collaborate and offer each other strategic support and advice. Collective members have access to a wide range of offerings, including professional development, funding, leadership opportunities, community events, and more. Members of The Collective are extraordinary women who lead organizations using their Jewish values and a gender lens to tackle intractable problems inside the Jewish community and beyond, in the US, Israel, and around the globe.
JWFNY promotes excellence in philanthropy and in women’s leadership through their own groundbreaking generosity.
We are grateful to the Leader Accelerator Fund for investing in our work and cherishing the work of accelerating small Jewish organizations doing work on the ground to change the landscape of innovation in New York City and the greater New York Area.
Jonathan and Dina Leader, our funders and partners, have generously given their gift to help us to truly accelerate our support of organizations and individuals looking to shift Jewish communal commitment to gender equity from inside our workplaces. We look forward to making those shifts together and honoring their commitment to our community with our hard work.
GEiHP is a recipient of funding from UpStart through the New York Entrepreneur Sprint powered by UJA-Federation of New York. Focused on startups, and providing immersive training with wraparound support, this sprint provided the opportunity to test and iterate onew initiatives in a supportive cohort community with rich and targeted coaching, enabling our work as an early-stage venture to build a vibrant community of colleagues in the region.
The Jewish Theological Seminary's Seeds of Innovation Project provide funding for groundbreaking new initiatives developed by JTS alumni. The grants support alumni who are pioneering new ideas that foster fresh and innovative forms of Jewish engagement. Through this initiative, JTS continues to advance the vital religious center of American Judaism by nurturing leaders who serve and impact their local communities throughout North America and beyond.