SRE Network Statement regarding Non-Disclosure Agreements
April 5, 2022 — Over the past weeks and months, members of our community have initiated conversations and raised important questions regarding non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the workplace: their usage, their impact on victim-survivors of abuse, and how SRE Network approaches and understands these legal tools, both in the context of workplace safety and in how we engage our member organizations. These conversations mirror those happening in wider society in the wake of the #metoo movement, with important legal and ethical implications.
We have heard directly from victim-survivors, advocates, and attorneys of both the ways that such agreements can protect the interests of employees including victim-survivors of misconduct, as well as can be tools of further abuse by employers and deterrents to victim-survivors seeking accountability, justice and repair. Such agreements (including non-disclosure agreements, non-disparagement agreements, confidentiality agreements and employment separation agreements) are complex and the way they are used in the workplace is evolving, in part in response to the demands of victim-survivors of abuse and misconduct.
SRE has always been a network of “the good”-- those willing to be “on a journey toward implementing the SRE standards,”-- not of “the perfect,” and we believe that true, lasting change is best achieved in the context of deep and accountable relationships. We have member organizations at all stages of this journey, and none of them, including SRE, is perfect. Many are in active work to advance their progress in this arena. Our purpose is to provide organizations with both the support and accountability mechanisms and tools to create safe, respectful and equitable workplaces. When concerns are raised regarding SRE member organizations, partners or constituents, we follow an internal process, with the understanding that our mission is different from that of an adjudicating body.
Complete implementation of our SRE Network Standards is our goal for our community, not a prerequisite for membership in SRE. By becoming and remaining a SRE Network member organization, our nearly 160 network organizations commit to: 1) being on a journey toward implementing the SRE Network Standards; 2) assessing their organization’s progress on that journey through taking our confidential SRE Network Standards Assessment on an annual basis; 3) joining a learning community committed to creating safe, respectful, equitable workplaces for all; and 4) committing to furthering gender equity and addressing gender-based discrimination and harassment in Jewish workplaces.
In light of concerns raised regarding NDAs and other employment agreements, we recommend organizations take steps to evaluate their existing policies and practices, specifically to ensure:
1) Any and all agreements that contain confidentiality clauses make clear such clauses are not intended to prevent victim-survivors from coming forward to report abuse or misconduct through the appropriate channels.
2) Previously executed agreements with confidentiality clauses are not used to prevent victim-survivors from coming forward to report past or recent abuse or misconduct through the appropriate channels.
We also want to be clear about what you can expect from SRE on this issue moving forward:
- In the coming months, we look forward to engaging our membership in taking a deeper look specifically at how these workplace agreements operate, including how to ensure that victim-survivors are centered and that organizations are not enforcing confidentiality agreements in a way that prevents individuals from reporting abuse or misconduct. This will include dedicating time at our upcoming SRE Network Virtual Convening, June 8-9, 2022 on this topic.
- We also will be engaging our leadership in the coming months in exploring how to build greater accountability into our SRE Network Standards and membership processes, to bring greater clarity to how we support and hold our partners and ourselves accountable.
As a network, convener, field-builder and thought leader on these issues, we see our role as providing a platform for effective action and change, by supporting and informing the community about important field-wide conversations such as those around NDAs. We are committed to pushing our network to think critically about how best to support victim-survivors, and to providing member organizations with timely updated tools and resources to inform their policies and procedures. To learn more about our SRE Network, our standards, membership and learning opportunities, please reach out to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About SRE Network:
SRE Network is a Jewish network of over 140 organizations that is rooted in our shared commitment to safety, respect, and equity-for all. We inspire meaningful change in workplaces and communal spaces by bringing people together to address gender-based harassment, discrimination, and inequity. Our work is focused on building community, research and learning, and strategic community investments, using an intersectional lens of gender justice. To learn more about the SRE Network visit srenetwork.org and view our SRE Network Standards for creating safe, respectful and equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces here: https://srenetwork.org/our-work/standards/.