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Now that many states and localities are recruiting salary transparency in job postings (thank you, Colorado, California and New York!), we are seeing a radical shift in conversations about salary across the board. We know that there is a natural and inevitable disruption in some spaces, in parts of our professional community, and in some specific organizations, as some employees find out they are being paid differently less than others who are doing the same or similar work. We also know that it’s equally challenging to initiate conversations at the organizational level when we may not have allocated the time or the resources to tackle questions of compensation, yet. The time has come to hold each other–and our employers–accountable and provide the resources for those who are ready to have honest, transparent conversations about salary and how pay is structured, as we are moving toward equity across our Jewish workplaces. Salary transparency requires steps toward real and authentic transparency. We invite you to talk about this with your colleagues, even when it is hard.

If you are excited about this effort, and eager to invite other folks to participate and contribute their data, we invite you to do so. We are better for the participation of a broad cross-section of our community, and our work becomes that much more equitable. We know that lots of questions will come up--and even more so, that folks may look to you as a resource and ask questions of you. If you are interested in inviting your colleagues to participate, here are some recommendations for language that you can use to help encourage others to take part.

  1. Are you familiar with the Gender Equity in Hiring Project’s Open Salary Spreadsheet? If not, I’d love to tell you more.

  2. If you’re interested in benchmarking your salary, the Open Salary Spreadsheet might be a good place to start.

  3. Have you considered contributing your data? By doing so, you’re making it possible for others to learn about what’s fair across the field, and to make their own asks as they negotiate.

  4. Have you considered contributing your data? When you do, you can then easily access others’ data, and benchmark yours against theirs.

  5. It’s so exciting that you contributed the last time. Have you contributed to the newest version? If you contribute, then you’ll make it possible for others to learn from your data….they will have the chance to rise along with you.

If you know that folks are reticent about contributing, and want to wonder with them about the implications of participating, here are some recommendations for language that might be helpful as you share why participation might be useful. They may have questions, or be confused about how this might benefit them. You might wonder on your own, with a colleague or a group of colleagues in community.

  1. Are you familiar with the Gender Equity in Hiring Project’s Open Salary Spreadsheet? I’d be glad to share more.

  2. You might already be familiar with the Open Salary Spreadsheet from the initial experiment a few years ago–it is so exciting that you contributed the last time. Your data will be such an important addition to this new collection.

  3. Have you ever struggled to benchmark or analyze your salary, or find colleagues to talk to about your salary? What was that like?

  4. Why might benchmarking salary this way might be a good place to start?

  5. What’s the value of transparency when it comes to salary? How might you–or others– benefit?

  6. Something about this makes me feel uncomfortable. How might we try to understand that discomfort and work around it? Where is this productive discomfort, and what can we learn from it?

  7. What here benefits me? What might I overcome in order to participate?

  8. What might I overcome in order to help support others? What do I need to support others?

What other resources do you need?

How else can we help?

Our role is to support our community in having the challenging conversations that lead us to changes in culture, that lead us toward equity, and that empower each of us to do that hard work of moving toward bold action one tiny step at a time. We know that it’s hard to convince others. It’s especially difficult when it’s hard to imagine the benefits. One of our goals is to invite our colleagues across the Jewish community to be a part of our efforts at transparency, both inside our organizations and in our conversations and relationships. While we also seek those shifts toward transparency, and we believe that knowledge and data will help us move toward that change, we also know that we can imagine change together by asking questions, considering how transparency benefits us, and taking small and bold actions toward that future we seek.

“What’s the value of my work?” This is the question that is on the minds of so many of our Jewish communal colleagues, and the question that is driving GEiHP’s research and deliberations. More often than not, we’re trying to find the answers to this question alone, and negotiating alone, and we don’t know where to find support in our workplaces, or from our colleagues.

Those working in the Jewish community can’t yet depend on clearly articulated compensation philosophies shared by their employers. Those are on their way, as more and more organizations are recognizing their value. Websites like Glassdoor and Payscale are less effective and don’t offer recently updated (and thus relevant) information for Jewish communal organizations, although they’re often a great place to start. And at the same time, we can attempt many one-on-one conversations between colleagues, because the personal connections built in these spaces are powerfully valuable, but word of mouth doesn’t get the information needed directly to the people who need it, as human capital is scarce, and not allocated equitably.

We know that there’s a lot of need out there, and we believe that this effort is one step closer to cultivating dialogue about equity, value, and organizational transparency. And at the same time, we know that our Open Salary Spreadsheet can’t do it all–nor should it. Let’s take a look at what open salary spreadsheets can and cannot do.

  • 62% of employees in the nonprofit Jewish community report that their organization has not worked or is not actively working on our approach to compensation.

  • 61% of employees in the Jewish community report that their organization does not understand how salaries and raises are determined at their organization.

  • 58% of employees in the Jewish community report that they do not believe their salary is fair relative to similar roles at their organization.

Many employees across the nonprofit Jewish communal sector feel they need more information about how compensation works at their organizations, including how salaries, raises and advancement are constructed as well as plans to improve and structure compensation processes in the future. While we know that everyone wants to earn more, what we see is that employees want to know that the ways in which they are being compensated are equitable and fair. In other words, Jewish organizations aren't doing the work of explaining to their employees how compensation works, even when they have done the work. Employees want to find out themselves--whatever information they can.

What Open Salary Spreadsheets do:

  1. Create cultures of transparency, which in turn create cultures of trust. Trust is the foundation of a fair, healthy, and high-performing workplace.

  2. Exemplify democracy and advocacy in action. Employees ask for this information, employees want this information, and employees should be able to gather this data if they choose.

  3. Encourage diversity in our networks and negotiation processes. Every salary negotiation expert recommends benchmarking salaries with multiple data points to achieve healthy diversity in the process. This is extremely difficult in the Jewish communal ecosystem, and this may be improved by connecting employees to data.

  4. Help employees understand the value of their work in workplaces that are limited concerning feedback and supervision metrics, issues that prevent understanding the real or perceived value of their work.

  5. Reduce inequities built into our reporting systems. 990s are publicly available for many of our Jewish non-profits and serve to perpetuate the inequity by offering the salaries of the organization's top 5 employees. The individuals who need transparency the most are the folks who are paid less--those who make up the rest of the organization. Salaries are already "public," but only for the top tier of organizational hierarchies.

  6. Strive for more equitable workplace cultures. Insider information is just that--insider. Open Salary Surveys eliminate insider-outsider knowledge and level the playing field. Everyone may participate and everyone benefits.

What Open Salary Spreadsheets do not do:

  1. Create holistic pay transparency, pay equity, close the wage gap, replace compensation audits, and change culture or systems--alone. Compensation is not this simple.

  2. Replace conversations and relationships to encourage salary benchmarks, most especially between employers and employees. Salary Surveys, although fascinating, don’t replace dialogue that develops context and specific data points for how specific salaries are built in specific organizations.

  3. Reduce bias. The data may help to prompt conversations, draw attention to gaps, and help employers and employees notice particular disparities, but surveys alone will not reduce bias of any kind in pay or reduce the wage gap.

  4. Normalize the conversation around salary because they don't replace it. We still must talk about salary, compensation, negotiation and power.

  5. Acknowledge the spectrum of transparency that might benefit an organization, from full transparency (a la Buffer) to total secrecy. Open Salary Surveys and their resulting spreadsheets are about organizational and systemic transparency, shifting towards helping employers and employees understand the data about the marketplace and not necessarily or exclusively about the organization's compensation.

  6. Get employees raises. Having the data you need and asking for a raise will get you a raise. Neither the cost of living increase is not a raise nor is a bonus in any given year a raise. To be meaningful, we must take this data and use it effectively.

Whether or not you find the Open Salary Spreadsheet and the resulting data valuable, it is likely you agree that it is important to know what a particular job is worth, what fair wages and fair wage increases are, and how recruitment and retention work best to retain employees within organizations. All of this requires data, which is, in our Jewish non-profit world, in short supply. This project is not backed by funder dollars. Rather, this project is backed by people power and the power of the wisdom and knowledge of the folks in the room who care to do the hard work of participating and sharing their data so that we all may grow and benefit as a community.

Regardless of what open salary spreadsheets or surveys do or do not do, we believe that it is crucial to operate in a mode of experimentation to support this effort on behalf of all employees across the sector who are demanding data. And we invite you to take part.

Our updated Open Salary Spreadsheet, now available on our website for your contributions and review, has been creating lots of buzz across our professional community. Members of our Jewish professional community have been asking for an updated tool since we closed the first iteration of this Spreadsheet at the end of 2019, and here we are.

We want, however, to take some time to pause on the whys behind our commitment to the Open Salary Spreadsheet. The Gender Equity in Hiring Project has built this platform to serve our wider community of Jewish professionals, those who work at every level inside Jewish organizations, and we share this with and for you all because we are committed, first and foremost, to equity. We know that not every employee in our community has the capacity to benchmark and analyze their own salary, or the colleagues who can help them do it properly. We believe in equity which is treating each person differently, according to their need, and that may be based on their gender, their race, their socioeconomic class, or any other marginalization. Equity is grounded in principles of fairness and justice and includes having and providing fair and impartial opportunities within an organization or system. Our Open Salary Spreadsheet is a step toward this, as we make it available to our community so that we can strive together toward more equitable opportunities within our system.

We also appreciate that sometimes justice demands, for the purpose of equity, an unequal response. We know that folks around the Jewish community believe that we are wasting our time on this kind of employee-centered project, that the data here is subjective and as such, worthless, and that this kind of transparency isn’t truly the kind of help we need to make the changes we seek. We respectfully disagree.

We believe in the power of transparency, and that pay transparency takes time; we continue this work by handing the tools of transparency to Jewish communal professionals. We believe in treating everyone equitably, even when “equitable” can be difficult to achieve. Our approach is rooted in fairness, so that each person may be successful based on their unique needs. We distinguish fairness from equality, which is treating each person the same regardless of need. While equality may be our ultimate goal, equity is what will get us there. Additionally, we embrace honesty and openness so that trust may be cultivated and built through the sharing of information, knowledge, and challenges, both internally and externally. Transparency enables us to take risks and grow together and we know that when it comes to pay – money, salary, and budget – these conversations may be increasingly difficult. It is time for a dialogue about transparency concerning pay, compensation, and equity, even when such dialogues may be hard, we feel ill-prepared, and we don’t yet know what we don’t know.

We look forward to sharing with you our perspective on pay transparency, why talking about salary matters, and the values behind our work over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for a series of blog posts right here that will illuminate and illustrate GEiHP’s work, the thinking behind the Open Salary Spreadsheet project, and how we hope to invest you as our partners in talking about and making change.

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