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Message from Robin – March 2024

Last week, a friend sent me this meme for the Jewish holiday of Purim. This image evokes the WWII era Rosie the Riveter campaign to address wartime labor shortages and celebrates the heroine Queen Esther who, according to the story, saved the Jewish people from mass destruction. And it’s a fantastic way to celebrate this year since Purim happened to fall during Women’s History Month.  

It’s also no secret that historically, women’s work opportunities have been limited to a small number of human service industry sectors and women’s contributions to society have been historically under-acknowledged, under-valued, and under-paid. In fact, the average gender pay gap in 2022 in the United States was $0.82 earned by women for each $1.00 earned by men. Immigrant and BIPOC women typically experience an even wider pay gap.  

We don’t have to look far to find examples of this phenomenon. JFCS East Bay, a human and social service provider, proudly employs a staff comprised predominantly of women with many on the team identifying as immigrants and/or as people of color. From social workers and therapists to case and care managers to attorneys and administrative staff, women and gender expansive identifying staff are the majority of our team at all levels of our org chart.  

At JFCS East Bay, our staff is our strength. We are people powered.  

In the past couple of years, in partnership with the leadership and commitment of our board of directors, we set ourselves on a journey of raising the floor of our salaries and wages for all staff and moving our pay scales to be more competitive in the marketplace as externally benchmarked. And, where able, we’ve built career pathways, invested in staff training, and improved our benefits package. In doing so, we recognize that there’s a direct relationship between staff experiences and our client experiences. We also recognize that if we are to hold ourselves to our values of upholding the dignity of every human being and pursuing justice, we must demonstrate this through how we address compensation equity among our staff. It turns out that these changes benefit the wonderful men on JFCS East Bay’s staff, as well.  

Queen Esther didn’t act alone to save the Jews of Shushan all those centuries ago. Similarly, we have learned that putting our values into action as expressed through fair and equitable pay and attention to the employee experience for everyone on our staff requires us to work together to reconsider key assumptions about how we do business and to shift accordingly. We continue to work to meet our multi-year and multi-step targets for competitive compensation. Women’s History Month is an opportunity to remind us of those who have fought for fair pay and of our obligation and our opportunity to continue to take the next steps. After all, the future is female.  

Happy Spring, 


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