Addressing the Gender Gap in Jewish Nonprofit Leadership

Most people working at Jewish nonprofits are women. But most CEOs of Jewish nonprofits—especially at the largest organizations—are men. In 2019, Leading Edge launched an investigation to better understand why that is, and how the field might begin to change it.

Building on the work of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, SRE Network, and many others, Leading Edge partnered with The Starfish Institute, an organization that has developed a methodology for applying network science to understanding complex social problems at a systemic level.

Together, over the course of 18 months, they engaged over 1,200 people to posit 71 causes of the gap. They then used quantitative network analysis to identify five “keystones” among them. These keystones spurred five "opportunities," or recommendations to make an impact:

  1. Boards, funders, and other powerful stakeholders can hold Jewish organizations accountable and incentivize them to elevate diverse leadership teams.
  2. Jewish nonprofit organizations can implement talent strategies to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
  3. Search committees, and the boards that appoint them, can implement processes to ensure that the work of the search committee is professional, equitable, and fair and that the most qualified candidate is chosen for the role
  4. Community members can work actively to shift our cultural assumptions about the capacity to be a leader and a primary caregiver at the same time.
  5. Institutions can give men the knowledge, support, and incentives to speak out and address the gender gap in leadership (and DEI more broadly).

Among the "bright spots" the report features are two involving JFN members:

  1. Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies' policy of funding only organizations that have formal non-discrimination policies covering both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression explicitly. 
  2. San Francisco Bay Area’s Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund's framework of “job architecture”— a system for aligning jobs based on the type of work performed


Learn more at Leading Edge.

Download the report.