Our work is rooted in the belief that reformulating hiring and employment processes are key leverage points for Jewish organizations as they challenge 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.
To solve our challenges around gender bias and support our evolution into more equitable workplaces, we aspire to build ecosystems and networks of support that enable our communal professionals to think collaboratively, creatively, and differently. This is why we do this work together. Our decades of experience working with Jewish organizations and communities enable us to weave networks of partners, challenge the status quo, strive for belonging and include multiple perspectives, and demonstrate how to do so in community while living in alignment with 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. Sara Shapiro-Plevan and Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu launch this project, devoted to shifting our Jewish community toward equity based on the groundbreaking work of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community.
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. Sara Shapiro-Plevan takes the helm as GEiHP's CEO and organizational leader.
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: Expanding Our Impact
Investing in women’s leadership and gender equity in the Jewish workplace continued to deepen our commitment to partnerships with allies. Our initial allies circle is now in its third cycle and has expanded into multiple iterations, which include small group discussions and reading groups. Our male allies guarantee that the work of gender equity is not held by women and non-binary people alone. 2022 also allowed us the opportunity to expand our work to include three new cohorts of Gender Equity Advocates, including one in South Florida, where we launched a cohort of more than 20 Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders committed to reshaping hiring and employment in their communities, searching for ways to identify and shift power in their Jewish workplaces toward equity. Our Advisory Circle, which embraces our shared belief in transparency, was founded to guide and design our vision into the next years. This Circle invites a networked leadership model of governance that allows 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. With our circle, work continues to evolve, in partnership with our community.
2023: Broadening Our Networks and Advocacy Efforts
In the spring of 2023, our Open Salary Spreadsheet invites contributions from the field, data shared by full-time employees across the North American Jewish communal workforce. Sharing salary and benefits data lifts up the power of transparency and builds a culture of trust and participatory community, as it works to create pay equity and narrow wage gaps. In doing this work, we hand the tools of transparency to Jewish communal professionals. Part of this process includes education and advocacy, and inviting colleagues and leadership to commit to curiosity and learning about the value of transparency in the design of compensation structures and compensation philosophy. As the Jewish community makes a commitment to more transparent, respectful and equitable workplaces, we take a step toward concrete and measurable investments in the talent and the potential of people of all genders, all races, all backgrounds and abilities, across our Jewish community.