November 20, 2019; Forward
“Employees at Jewish nonprofits all over the country are disseminating a spreadsheet meant to help inform workers—especially female ones—about the salaries of their peers,” writes Molly Boigon in the Forward. Within its first day, it had already collected over 300 entries. Anyone can access it and can add their information, but the contributors stay anonymous.
Among the organizers of the effort is Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu, cofounder of the Gender Equity in Hiring Project. Sirbu explains the rationale behind the effort: “If you don’t know what people are making, you don’t know what to ask for. We’re at a time, both in our country and within the Jewish community, where we’re waking up to the persistent challenges of inequalities and, in our case, particularly gender inequality in the workforce.”
“The goal,” writes Boigon, “is to create more transparency around salaries, and in particular, around gender equality and treatment of part-time workers.” NPQ has written about some similar efforts. Back in June, we wrote about an effort to share wage and benefit information among art and museum employees. In September, we wrote about similar effort among adjunct college faculty (and other academics). Journalists, too, recently launched their own effort.
Sirbu and Gender Equity in Hiring Project cofounder Sara Shapiro-Plevan cite the journalism one as inspiring their own effort. Sirbu and Shapiro-Plevan hope that exposure of salary differences will lead to greater pay equity.
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With Jewish nonprofits, as in other fields, Sirbu notes, the pattern seems clear: Salaries are higher at bigger organizations, and male pulpit rabbis earn the most. Sirbu also contends that reducing the gender pay gap among Jewish nonprofits can create greater leverage to address other workplace issues, such as sexual harassment and abuse. “We decided to focus on gender equity as our slice of this, because if we don’t fight for equity, we’re also never going to solve the problems of harassment and abuse,” Sirbu says.
Shapiro-Plevan notes there has been some resistance. “It might be hard at this early stage for people to understand how more information will benefit the larger community,” adding, “We’ve relied so heavily on a sort of generalized opaqueness when we talk about salary.”
A spreadsheet, of course, won’t create a cultural shift overnight. Still, Shapiro-Plevan tells Boigon she looks forward to seeing the long-term results of the spreadsheet’s availability—both for job seekers and for hiring organizations.
“What does this do,” she asks, “to Jewish organizations when they recognize that people hold this data and may be aware in their negotiations?”—Steve Dubb