Women in Jewish Leadership (WJL), a project of the Board of Deputies, launched the pilot for the ground-breaking Gender Equality Plan to enable more women to reach the top of Jewish communal organisations this week
Despite progress in the secular world, there are fewer women in the higher reaches of Jewish organisations. The Gender Equality Plan aims to give organisations the practical support to address gender equality and overcome prejudice. Practical steps include job appointment processes which encourage women as well as men to apply for paid jobs, as well as for voluntary roles; flexible work so that women as well as men can contribute; and support for women’s personal development, including help in securing promotions. Each plan is tailor made with the organisation’s needs at the heart of their own action plan and recognises that the only way to tackle this issue is systematically and professionally.
The GEP, which stems from the 2012 JLC report, Inspiring Women Leaders, is being piloted in three self chosen organisations: World Jewish Relief, the Jewish Community Housing Association and Masorti Judaism. If and when the plan proves successful, it will be offered to other Jewish community organisations, who see the benefits it can bring to their organisations.
The aim is to bring about genuine gender equality within Jewish institutions, and to tackle the lack of progress of Jewish women, who despite being well-educated and high-achieving, have faced barriers to securing leadership roles.
Dr Helena Miller, Chair of GEP says “Without doubt, the process of developing the Pilot programme and the experience of delivering the Pilot programme was made possible by the commitment, hard work, high standards and creativity of the volunteer GEP panel working together with our three pilot organisations.”
Laura Marks, the Chair of WJL, and Senior Vice President, Board of Deputies, said: “The most important issue is that our pilot organisations are driving the change themselves, the impetus comes from within not from external pressure. They recognise that they will be even stronger organisations if they ensure that every member of their volunteer and staff team is valued equally. ”
Paul Anticoni, Chief Executive of World Jewish Relief, said: “Jewish women are amongst this country’s highest educational and professional achievers, yet there remains a stark gender imbalance at the top of communal organisations. We are proud to be part of the Board of Deputies’ initiative because it’s our responsibility to correct this; we can and must do more. It’s simply the right thing to do to ensure better opportunities for the many experienced, passionate and expert women who could and should lead our community.”
Who is involved in the Gender Equality Plan?
Dr Helena Miller, chair, UJIA Director of Research, Evaluation and Community Israel Engagement (prof) senior editor of Journal of Jewish Education, trustee of JCoSS
Andrea Kelmanson, Former Acting CEO Board of Deputies
Professor Margaret Harris, Professor of Voluntary Sector Organisation, Aston University (retired)
Debbie Fox, Vice Chair of Jewish Care and Lead, Trustee of JLC
Suzanne Jacobs, Deputy CEO, The Portland Trust
Joanne Greenaway, lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills – recently appointed as lawyer for Beth Din for divorce cases, member of US Women Executive, participant in Lead’s GAMECHANGERS senior leadership programme