This month BJPA is highlighting materials on the changing Jewish workplace.
Seeking better to understand the vast network of people who make the Jewish workplace function, the BJPA and the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA) recently released "Profiling the Professionals," a social scientific survey of self-selected Jewish communal professionals in the United States and Canada. (The JCSA's membership survey of 1999 is also useful for exploring this topic.) A 2005 Brandeis University study performed an in-depth survey of six Jewish communities, seeking insight into "The Jewish Sector's Workforce." For insight into how this population has changed over the past century, consider "Biographical Sketches of Jewish Communal Workers in the United States" from the year 1906.
Indeed, the ways in which communal workers differ across generational lines is of continuing interest. Last year the BJPA and the Research Center for Leadership in Action (both at NYU Wagner) collaborated to publish David Elcott's ground-breaking study of Jewish Baby Boomers,. As some of these retiring Jewish Boomers may seek "encore careers" in the Jewish communal sector, the Jewish workplace may be significantly affected. The report's conclusions and implications were further discussed at a BJPA panel discussion, a podcast of which is available here. Michael J. Austin and Tracy Salkowitz argue that the impending Baby Boomer retirement means the Jewish communal sector is at the edge of a precipice, and is in need of "Executive Development and Succession Planning". Meanwhile, as the Baby Boom generation undergoes these transitions, the incoming generations must also be considered. Lori Klein and Shira Liff-Grieff explore intergenerational dynamics in the Jewish workplace in "From Generation to Generation: Changing Behavioral Perceptions and Expectations in Jewish Nonprofits", identifying the constituent generations of the Jewish workplace as Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. Liff-Grieff also contributes an in-depth study dedicated to the latter group: "Integrating the Millennial Generation: A Study of Young Professionals in the Jewish Nonprofit Sector".
Some aspects of organizational change seem glacially slow. Nearly three decades ago, Ruth Brandwein asked "Where Are the Women - And Why", finding a disproportionately low number of women in administrative leadership positions in Jewish communal service, as well as a wide salary gap; a decade and a half later, Audrey S. Weiner noted that, despite written commitments on the part of Jewish agencies to bring about gender equity, a glass ceiling assuredly still existed; and in 2009, a Forward survey of 75 major American Jewish communal organizations found that fewer than one in six have female chief executives, and that female leaders are paid 61 cents to the male leader's dollar. Rabbi Jill Jacobs argues that the normal hand-wringing and talk from Jewish communal leaders will not suffice to address this issue; nothing less than a sea change in the professional culture of the Jewish community will suffice, she writes in "Making Jewish Paychecks Fair".A number of resources and guides exist to attempt to rectify this situation; among them are a "Best Practices Guide to Retaining and Advancing Women in Jewish Communal Service" from the Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, and a set of tools and exercises for "Leveling the Playing Field" from Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community (AWP).
AWP has also been involved in a number of studies and publications relating to work-life balance, a topic relevant not only to the issue of gender equity, but also to the nature of the Jewish communal workplace as a whole: in 2003, for example, AWP produced a report detailing "The Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements", and in Fall of 2009, AWP published "Better Work, Better Life", a comprehensive analysis of work-life policies in the Jewish community, finding that current policies tend to fall short of the mark.(More such publications by AWP's Shifra Bronznick, Didi Goldenhar, and others, are available on the BJPA.) Yet Cindy Chazan argues that the perfect work-life balance may be an illusion. Ann Hartman Luban argues that an increasing number of highly trained female Jewish communal professionals are tackling the problem sequentially, choosing a sequence of "work-family-work". The Jewish community should seek to keep these professionals connected during their "family" phase, she suggests, and facilitate their re-entry during their second "work" phase.
Of course, work-life issues are not the only human resources issues deserving more attention in the Jewish nonprofit field. Stephen Mark Dobbs, Zev Hymowitz and Gary A. Tobin examine "The Development of Professional Leadership in the Jewish Community" and find that professional development has not been treated as a high enough priority in the Jewish communal world. Shaul Kelner, Michael Rabkin, Leonard Saxe and Carl Sheingold explore recent research into "Recruitment & Retention" in the private, nonprofit, and Jewish sectors. Tobin Belzer argues that "It's Not About Marketing", and that Jewish organizations must undergo substantive changes in order to retain talented young Jewish professionals. As always, BJPA holdings also contain fascinating insights into the longer history of these issues: a 1951 article discusses "Salary Trends and General Security Problems of the Jewish Social Worker", and a 1949 article examines "Recent Personnel Trends in Jewish Community Organization."
For more materials relating to the changing Jewish workplace, browse through holdings under the Topics of Employment, Management and Administration, Organizational Development,Professional Development, Recruitment and Retention, Retirement, Unions, or Workplace. A powerful Advanced Search can also provide you more narrowly with precisely the publications you need.
With best wishes,
Prof. Steven M. Cohen
Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner