Fostering Safe, Respectful, Equitable Organizations

Jun 26, 2019

By Rachel Siegel

Earlier this month, JWFNY professionals attended the SafetyRespectEquity Coalition (SRE)’s Spring Summit. The goal of SRE, and the Summit was “shaping a shared agenda to ensure safe, respectful, equitable organizations and communal spaces.” SRE does this by addressing sexual harassment, sexism, and gender discrimination. The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York is a grant recipient of SRE’s Rapid Response Fund grant program for our project, Ta’amod: Stand Up!.

On the first day, SRE Leadership members studied with Dr. Elana Stein Hain from JWFNY grantee partner, Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, to consider navigating challenges with regard to real-time situational dilemmas that organizations have grappled with since the Coalition’s inception. The group then took a deep dive into the policies and governance structure of the Coalition. This was followed by a dialogue between Pamela Shifman, Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation and Lisa Eisen, President of the Charles & Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation during which they discussed how movement leaders and survivors can work together to radically transform culture and public policy with a view toward ending violence against women and girls.

On the second day, we began with breakfast with all of SRE’s grantees to meet and share our work with one another and discuss areas where there is overlap and potential for partnerships. The Summit kicked off with a presentation around where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going and two panels — one discussing what is Jewish about SRE’s call to action and the other addressing panelists’ lived experiences in the age of #MeToo. A lunch dialogue with Jen Klein, Chief Strategy and Policy Officer at TIME’S UP, inspired us to think about where the Coalition’s work fits into the broader national movement. There were many interesting breakout sessions, so we split up so we could take advantage of the timely and stimulating conversations, including navigating culture change, enhancing organizational accountability, equal pay for equal work, and gender equity in hiring. Speakers included many of JWFNY’s grantee partners, including Rabbi Mary Zamore of Women’s Rabbinic Network, Danielle Pitkoff and Shira Berkovits of Sacred Spaces, and Idit Klein and Justin Rosen Smolen of Keshet. The perfect end cap to the day was a conversation with Shifra Bronznick, Social Change Strategist in Residence at Auburn Seminary, who helped to synthesize the day and reflect on possibilities for the future.

The overall message that I was left with was that creating safe, respectful, and equitable workplaces is not a women’s issue that women need to solve. We need a new model, one in which both women and men work together and are equal contributors. It was said several times throughout the day: “You cannot have safety and respect without equity. You cannot have equity without safety and respect.”