When my daughter was born 18 years ago, I used to bring her to school with me and lay her on a blanket in the corner of my classroom when I taught. There was no child care at the university (then the University of Judaism) and no paid family leave.Eighteen years later, there are classes of rabbinical students who remember my daughter and then my son as infants in their mishnah classes, the institutions has a different name, and we still don’t have paid family leave (or child care). [pullquote] Eighteen years later, there are classes of rabbinical students who remember my daughter and then my son as infants in their mishnah classes, the institutions has a different name, and we still don’t have paid family leave (or child care).
[/pullquote] Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community is taking a well-deserved victory lap two years into their campaign to convince Jewish non-profits to offer paid family leave. There are still many organizations and institutions that do not offer paid family leave. Perhaps in the comments we should start a list of those organizations as a part of the campaign to urge them to offer this very important benefit.
NEW YORK, NY, October 22, 2015 – Today, the Better Work, Better Life Campaign announced the names of the first 100 Jewish organizations to offer paid family leave and/or workplace flexibility to their employees, which the coalition will celebrate at an upcoming event in New York City. More than 200 officials and supporters of Jewish organizations, including CEOs, COOs, human resource directors, philanthropists, and volunteer leaders will attend CELEBRATE THE 100! on Wednesday, October 28, 2015 from 5:00 to 7:30 pm at the Prince George Hotel Ballroom – 15 East 27th Street, New York, NY. Members of the press are welcome and encouraged to attend to learn about the policies of these 100 forward-thinking Jewish organizations. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to be placed on the list of attendees at [email protected].
Speakers will include Vicki Shabo, Vice-President of the National Partnership for Women and Families; Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc – A Jewish Partnership for Justice; Dr. Elana Stein Hain, Director of Leadership Education at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America; Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum, Rabbi and Executive Director of The Kavana Cooperative; Eric Fingerhut, CEO of Hillel International with 550 campus affiliates; and Mark Gurvis, Executive Vice-President of the Jewish Federations of North America.
[pullquote] Paid parental leave generates enormous good will, requires little or no additional expenditure and enables us to retain talented staff.
[/pullquote]“Paid parental leave generates enormous good will, requires little or no additional expenditure and enables us to retain talented staff,” said Marc Gurvis, Executive Vice-President of the Jewish Federations of North America. “Moreover, healthy work-life policies make good business sense and they align with our organization’s values,” added Gurvis.
The Better Work, Better Life Campaign was founded in 2009 by Advancing Women Professionals (AWP), an organization that seeks to expand professional opportunities for women in the organized Jewish community and advance their careers by promoting effective workplace policies. At the Campaign’s launch in 2009, a survey found that only 35 percent of Jewish organizations offered any paid parental leave. While Jewish organizations outpaced the national average – only 11 percent of Americans have access to paid leave through their employers – AWP challenged the Jewish community to do better.
“Of the organizations currently on the list of 100, there were very few that offered paid leave at the start of the campaign,” said AWP’s Founder and President Shifra Bronznick. “It took two years to persuade the first twelve organizations to adopt paid leave, and in the following four years, more than 90 additional Jewish organizations have adopted such policies. We were able to accomplish this because over time, we collected evidence that showed that paid leave was big enough to matter and small enough to achieve. We helped Jewish organizations understand that inflexible workplace policies blocked the advancement of women professionals and that changing the norm in the organized Jewish community would benefit everyone who works for us and influence national policy by demonstrating that progress is possible,” added Bronznick.
Paid parental leave policies offer paid time off for individuals and couples following the birth or adoption of a child. Research shows that these policies support families, boost productivity, improve retention and enhance employee loyalty. Many companies in the tech sector use generous paid leave as a competitive talent strategy, and the same is true for the nonprofit sector.
“At one point we had 10 valued members of our staff – both women and men – all on leave at once. But thankfully they all returned, due to the paid leave opportunities that American Jewish World Service offers as a nonprofit organization. These policies have helped to shape the supportive work environment we strive to build for the parents on our staff,” said Robert Bank, Executive Vice President of American Jewish World Service.
“Through CELEBRATE THE 100! the Campaign will make clear that the question is no longer about whether or not Jewish organizations can afford to have paid parental leave. It’s about how and when paid leave will be implemented within the organized Jewish community,” said Bronznick.
In the case of the Jewish community, paid leave also reflects deeply-held values around gender equality and resonates deeply with the achievements of Jewish-led movements for social justice, including heavily-Jewish garment worker unions that won victories of the 40-hour work week and workplace safety rules in the early 20th century. The Better Work, Better Life Campaign brought together Jewish organizations and leaders across the communal spectrum from Reform to Modern Orthodox to secular organizations in supporting paid parental leave.