These articles are meant to strengthen the capacity of all FBOs to live out their faith-based mission. If you are already a Sacred Sector participant, log into the Participant Portal to access the toolbox resources. If your organization is interested in becoming a Sacred Sector participant, click here.
Paid family leave is an issue that affects almost every American at some point, from the new mother who wants to bond with her baby to the aging grandparent who needs help with medical care. Recently, Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would allow new parents to finance their paid leave by drawing from their Social Security benefits early. Senator Rubio, along with Ivanka Trump, is hopeful that the bill will gain bipartisan support. This isn’t an unprecedented concept; last year, two different think tanks from opposite sides of the political spectrum — the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the left-leaning Brookings Institution — collaborated to create a report on paid family and medical leave.
This year, the Center for Public Justice’s Families Valued initiative released its Time to Flourish report, lending a Christian voice to the discussion about family-supportive workplaces. Faith-based organizations, many which strongly affirm family values, have the opportunity to lead the way in promoting family-supportive workplaces. This is particularly important for faith-based organizations whose ministries focus on holistically caring for people in crisis.
Amirah New England is a Sacred Sector participant and faith-based organization in Boston, Massachusetts. Amirah provides a safe home for female survivors of sex trafficking. It offers an “individualized, trauma-informed, whole-person care approach” through recovery programs tailored for each woman’s needs. Amirah’s website proclaims its statement of faith: “Because of the undeserved love of Christ that has transformed our lives, we feel called to offer unconditional care for others.” Amirah also extends this unconditional care to its employees by cultivating a family-supportive workplace.
The Sacred Sector Family Supportive Workplaces Organizational Practices Toolbox says, “The internal dynamics of a faith based organization’s workplace reflect that organization’s sacred mission and values as does its public and client-facing activities.” Amirah lives out its sacred mission through its Whole-Person Care Program. In this program, Amirah employees help each woman work through physical, mental, emotional, social, vocational and spiritual trauma in a method tailored to her specific needs.
In addition to client care, it is important for faith-based organizations to cultivate family- supportive policies among their staff. The Organizational Practices Toolbox says: “For many organizations, valuing the inherent dignity of each person is integral to their mission. Upholding human dignity also means valuing the multiple capabilities, gifts and callings that are present in each person's life.”
Stephanie Clark, Executive Director of Amirah, is committed to supporting her employees throughout the various spheres of life. Clark affirms: “We are definitely work/life integrated … some of my employees have families and we allow employees to work from home when needed. We try to be as balanced as possible to ensure that their home life comes first before this extremely demanding job.” By fostering this balance, Clark encourages her families to pour into their own families as they uplift women at Amirah.
The Sacred Sector Family Supportive Workplaces Public Positioning Toolbox says: “The structure of a workplace manifests the organizational mission. Additionally, it communicates organizational values such as the inherent dignity of employees and importance of family.” Clark continually communicates to her staff about the importance of balancing family and work. One way she encourages work-life balance is by offering flexible hours; when staff members work late nights, Clark urges them to come into work later in the afternoon the next day.
In addition to encouraging family supportive policies, Clark herself maintains balance between her job and family. Clark openly communicates about her personal boundaries, and has said: “With adopting my girls, I have been really clear about how my life is going to shift.” Similarly, the Public Positioning Toolbox speaks to the importance of transparency within organizations: “Your FBO should help the people utilizing your services understand your identity as a FBO. You should also educate them on how the provided services and workplace atmosphere are a result of your sacred calling.” Throughout their website and other public-facing materials, Amirah successfully integrates its mission with its family-supportive practices.
For faith-based organizations, particularly ones that provide direct care for people in need, it is crucial to establish family-supportive workplace practices. By holistically supporting its service recipients as well as staff members, Amirah New England remains true to its faith-based mission. Amirah’s commitment to caring for individuals throughout different spheres of life allows it to truly support and uplift everyone involved, from its staff to the women it serves.
If you are not a Sacred Sector participant and would like access to resources on public policy, organizational practices and public positioning for faith-based organizations, sign up to become a Sacred Sector participant here.
Nicole Kennedy is a Legal Fellow with the Center for Public Justice (CPJ). She contributes to two different initiatives at CPJ: Sacred Sector and the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA). Nicole is a law student at the University of California, Irvine and an alumna of Pepperdine University.