Creating A Culture of Safety, Respect, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Within JCC

Posted by: Rebecca Soldan on Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Creating A Culture of Safety, Respect, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Within JCC

Note from Andy: This month, in place of my regular column, I invited Rebecca Soldan, JCC assistant executive director, to share her thoughts. 

As the assistant executive director at the JCC, one of my primary roles is to help all our employees do their best work as we strive for excellence in fulfilling our mission. The work of a fitness instructor is different from a mobile meals driver or a preschool teacher, but regardless of our role, we all do our best work when we feel part of a strong team, driven by our core values. Ongoing professional development and the creation of a staff culture that helps all our employees feel valued and respected is the key to success for our staff and our organization as a whole. As we move into 2022, we are recommitting ourselves to this goal, through orientation sessions for new employees, in-service department training for existing employees, and engagement in JCulture across our entire agency.

JCulture is JCC Association of North America’s response to creating a field-wide culture of safety, respect, equity, diversity, and inclusion within JCC communities. Developed by Ta’Amod and taught through a Jewish lens, the training draws upon the key concepts of tzedek (justice), responsibility, hineini (being present), and kavod (respect). However, JCulture is more than just a training, it is a framework that will give our staff the tools and language to create a feedback-rich culture in which we can address issues that arise with empathy and accountability. It helps us understand and define what is acceptable workplace behavior. It allows us to create a psychologically safe environment in which our teams can do their best work.

Psychological safety is closely tied to an organization’s commitment to building a sense of belonging and developing practices that ensure all staff feel genuinely included when they show up as their authentic selves. A study conducted by Google called Project Aristotle looked at over 180 of their teams to find out what makes groups work most effectively together. The researchers examined everything from how often teams socialize outside of work to the group leaders’ management styles. They found that the key difference between high performing and low performing teams was their level of psychological safety. Essentially, people empowered to share their thoughts and ideas freely, without fear of being judged or shut down, impacted how well the team worked together and how successful they were at achieving their goals.

Three members of our leadership team - Denise Wolf, Executive Director; Rebecca Soldan, Assistant Executive Director, and Tara Bishop, Aquatics & Logan Director - have engaged in 20 hours of initial training to become the “changemakers” that will facilitate JCulture training for our entire staff in 2022. Additionally, our facilitators will continue to engage with related material through a series of monthly webinars and explore best practices through ongoing connection with other JCC’s across the country that are also taking part in the JCulture movement. Our JCulture team will then be equipped to bring these concepts to the rest of our staff, infusing them into one-on-one coaching and supervision, staff meetings, and training sessions throughout the year.

The commitment to this work could not have come at a better time. As we continue to work together through unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to ensure that we are taking care of ourselves and each other. As we continue to wrestle as a society with issues of structural inequality, racial disparity, and gender-based violence, it is vital that we ensure our organization is welcoming and safe for everyone. I am proud to be part of a team that leads with our values to do our best work.

Rebecca Soldan
JCC Assistant Executive Director


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