Recruiting and selecting the professional leader for a Jewish institution - whether the senior rabbi of a congregation, the head of a Jewish Community Center or the Chief Executive Officer of a Federation -- usually involves a committee of volunteer leaders.
Search processes are effective when this committee takes the time to articulate the future needs of the organization. The committee should then define the attributes, skills and experiences that a candidate should present, to succeed in moving the organization towards these goals. To make sure that women candidates are given equal consideration:
Build a diverse committee. Your committee should include perspectives from women and men, and younger as well as senior volunteer leaders. You can also involve people outside the search process - to help define the criteria, to recruit and to nominate.
Challenge your assumptions. Start with a conversation among members of the search committee - or even among key stakeholders in the organization - to surface the obstacles for women candidates and to encourage new ways of thinking about women's leadership. Take advantage of tools to help shape these conversations. For example, the Rabbinical Assembly created materials specifically for this purpose that synagogues can use.
Reach out to professional organizations. The rabbinical associations and the synagogue organizations, the Jewish Community Center Association, the United Jewish Communities, and a host of others offer guidance and to volunteer search committees. Take advantage of these resources.
Enlist professional help. When needed, recruiters can help by bringing a larger database of referrals, from both inside and outside the Jewish community. Their profession gives them a sophisticated understanding of how people's past experiences can be applied to the organizations' current challenges.