On August 4, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York (JWFNY) published an editorial in The Forward explaining a dramatic new policy to award grants only to organizations offering their employees at least four weeks of paid parental leave.
The response on social media was positive––and swift. And, significantly, the editorial also caught the attention of employers. “Three organizations have already talked to me saying that they’re going to revisit their policy,” says Stephanie Blumenkranz, Assistant Director of JWFNY.
The changes decided on by the JWFNY board were driven, says Blumenkranz, by a desire to take concrete action. “We’ve advocated for paid parental leave for a few years now, and for us to be true advocates we can’t just talk about it. We have to do something about it. Because we’re a foundation, we felt that the best way to bring about change was with our grantmaking dollars.”
Julie Sissman, a JWFNY member who was part of crafting the new policy, noted the significance of specifying parental leave as opposed to just maternity leave. “It is important to be bold and not stand on the sidelines of the national conversation about parental leave. To achieve gender equity we need systems in place that break women and men and people of all gender identities out of gender-stereotyped silos and assumptions. All employees starting their lives as new parents need equal support. Paid parental leave is a key component of creating real change,” says Sissman.
Blumenkranz called the response to the new policy very positive. “A lot of people, especially in the Jewish community, felt like this was really needed.”