Church House mole identifies prejudice in appointment of new Director of Communications

Church House has been infiltrated by a variety of small mammals. To date we have identified a mouse, a mole and a ferret. Changing Attitude tries to maintain an open and unprejudiced stance towards the various pseudonym Church House mammals, but we have to say (well, I Colin Coward say) that the ferret seems to be beset with some rather unpleasant characteristics such as ferreting around in other people’s private lives (especially if they’re gay) and posting derogatory, insinuating comments. The mole and the mouse, on the other hand (which could be equally verminous creatures) reveal internal Church House workings with the intention of shedding light rather than darkness on staff policy and practice.

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William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod

The mole, expressing the concern of many in the church, s/he says, puts William Fittall, Secretary General of the General Synod, in the spotlight this week, concerned that Mr Fittall is interfering with an anti-gay stance in the appointment a new Director of Communications. An advert for the job has been placed in the Sunday Times last Sunday.

C of E says no gays or divorcees for its top communications role

Mr Fittall revealed his views at the Public Bill Committee hearing in June 2009 when he said: “The director of communications for the Church of England has a representational role, and it would not be credible for him to do his job if he had been married three times and caused a scandal, or if he were a campaigning member for gay rights in a sexually active relationship.”   

Mole believes Mr Fittall is enforcing a culture reminiscent of England in the 1930’s at Church House at a time when gay people and divorcees could not apply for jobs, or were shamed and sacked if ‘found out’. Mole suspects that anyone who is living in a loving relationship and gay or is divorced because their relationship came to an end, or are members of anything from the Labour Party to Changing Attitude, will be ferreted out and barred.

Among the competencies expected of the successful candidate are “valuing people – as demonstrated through embracing diversity to manage working relationships effectively so as to get the best out of others by developing their capabilities.”

The Archbishops’ are looking for an experienced corporate communicator who has to be a person of faith. But William Fittall seems to want a person of faith with either no belief in justice issues, or someone who shares his own conservative Christian views on the world.

Mole assumes the headhunters, recruitment agencies, and interview panel will ask extensive, intrusive and humiliating questions of candidates to determine whether they are morally acceptable for the post. As a result the C of E will not get the Director of Communications it deserves.

The idea of appointing a person of faith to do the job who has no belief in justice issues is frankly odd and the sad outcome of what many believe is prejudice at the heart of Church of England recruitment. This is what is really behind the appearance of the phrase ‘Part 1 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 in the advert’. This is the ‘silent diversity exterminator’ and it is very clever. It says to gays and divorcees, ‘stay away – whatever your skills – you are not welcome’. Because such people won’t apply, this hidden agenda can never be proven or the damage measured.

William Fittall has made clear in other committees that if people are ‘found out’ they will be ruled out  “both at recruitment and when someone is in post.”   

He is a Reader at St Marks, Battersea Rise, an Evangelical Alliance church which in previous times switched off its recording devices while the vicar asked the congregation to support African anti-gay churches.  

Mole’s analysis of what is happening in the appointment of a new Director of Communications worries me for a number of reasons. The exemptions gained by the C of E from equality legislation may be used to inhibit the employment of LGB&T people in a crucial post at Church House. Prejudice against LGB&T people and the development of a more open policy may be blocked by the newly appointed person.

Advertisement from the Sunday Times

Communications Director

Competitive package

London

The Communications Office for the Church of England plays a critical role in promoting and advancing its Mission, through the provision of a 24-hour, seven day a week service on behalf of the National Church Institutions, including the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board.

As Communications Director, you will lead on the further development of our strategy, ensuring its effective and rigorous implementation through the Communications team. The role carries a broad remit across a complex and significant organisational infrastructure and covers all media relations, external and internal communications, communications training and development, and supporting and co-ordinating the Communications network across 44 Dioceses.

This is no ordinary Communications Director job. We are looking for somebody who will share our values and whilst not necessarily an Anglican, is a practising Christian (this post is subject to an occupational requirement that the holder be a practising Christian under Part 1 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 because of its representational role and its responsibility for maintaining a Christian ethos within the national Church, as one of its senior officers). In addition, you will be a proven leader, with a relevant senior management track record, probably gained in a significant public or private sector organisation, together with acute political sensitivity and judgement. This role requires an enterprising and creative thinker, with a commercial eye and the intellectual rigour and relationship skills to be credible and influential with all our key stakeholders.

For further details and to apply please visit www.coferecruitment.com. For a confidential discussion, please contact our advisers Katrina Paget on 0113 205 6088 and Anita Denton on 0151 420 2542. Closing date: 20th July 2011

Full text for the position:

The National Institutions of the Church of England

Managing Employer: Archbishops’ Council

Communications Office

JOB DESCRIPTION

Job Title: Communications Director

Location: Church House, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3NZ

Accountable to: Secretary General

Responsible for: Ten members of staff

Job summary: The Director will be responsible for the Communications Unit which has an annual budget of £768,000. The Unit supports the Archbishop’s Council, the General Synod, the House of Bishops, the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board on the external and internal communications and promotional aspects of their work. The Unit also co-ordinates its activities with communications staff at Lambeth and Bishopthorpe and in the Dioceses.

Main duties and responsibilities:

  • · Take overall strategic responsibility for leading the Communications of the Church of England both externally and internally
  • · Monitor and contribute to the development of media policy
  • · Lead, manage and ensure the ongoing development of the Communications Office staff and provide leadership to the Office in support of the General Synod, the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, the Church Commissioners and the Pensions Board
  • · Take overall responsibility for the development and delivery of a broad range of initiatives to promote the mission of the Church of England
  • · Promote the interests of the Church of England with the media
  • · Promote the interests of religious broadcasting with the Government and regulatory bodies
  • · Advise the Archbishop’s Council on the implications and opportunities for the Church from new developments in broadcasting policy, communications technologies and the regulatory framework
  • · Nurture and co-ordinate the network of diocesan communications officers
  • · Ensure the provision of communications training and development across the organisation
  • · Contribute to the corporate management of the National Church Institutions as a member of the Secretary General’s Senior Management Group.

PERSON SPECIFICATION:

Part One

Occupational Requirement

The post is subject to the requirement that the holder be a practising Christian, under Part 1 of Schedule 9 to the Equality Act 2010 as this post has a senior representational role on behalf of the Church

Qualifications

  • · Graduate level or equivalent, preferably with a relevant professional qualification.

Knowledge and Experience

  • · A substantial track record of strategic communications leadership and of leading and developing communications strategy in a complex organisation in either the broader public, not for profit or private sector and preferably at national level
  • · Evidence of successfully having operated at a senior management level in a fast moving and complex multi-agency / multiple stakeholder environment and of having built high-value relationships with a range of internal and external stakeholders and partners
  • · A demonstrable track record of leading, influencing and delivering change and improving the performance of an organisation or function
  • · Demonstrable ability in the techniques of critical analysis, research and competent report writing
  • · Considerable experience of developing and leading the delivery of broad communications led initiatives and projects in line with strategic objectives and plans
  • · A track record of managing and delivering budgets, together with evidence of strong financial management
  • · Experience of operating at a senior level and contributing effectively to wider corporate/organisational issues
  • · Strong track record of effective resource and people management and development, and a track record of harnessing the strengths and potential of staff and maintaining a strong and motivated senior team

Part Two

Personal style and behaviour

  • · Demonstrate the ability to contribute strategically to the work of a major national organisation
  • · Have the strong influencing and interpersonal skills necessary to achieve results in a complex and widely dispersed organisation
  • · Ability to form good working relationships both internally and externally
  • · Excellent communication skills both written and oral
  • · Highly self motivated
  • · Flexible and adaptable to meet new challenges

Competencies

As a member of the Senior Management Group, you will be able to demonstrate capabilities in six core areas of management practice outlined below:

  • · Leadership – as demonstrated through the ability to inspire commitment and enthusiasm to create a culture which is focused on achieving objectives
  • · Delivery of results – as demonstrated through the ability to initiate action to resolve problems, overcome barriers and exploit opportunities
  • · Personal effectiveness recognised by modelling the values and behaviours outlined in the senior team code of conduct

Comments

  1. Laurence C. says

    “Mr Fittall revealed his views at the Public Bill Committee hearing in June 2009 when he said: “The director of communications for the Church of England has a representational role, and it would not be credible for him to do his job if he had been married three times and caused a scandal, or if he were a campaigning member for gay rights in a sexually active relationship.” ”

    Doesn’t look like he thinks a woman is capable of doing the job either.

  2. Jean MAYLAND says

    Under the examption from the Equality Act the Church of England can advertise for a Christian.Under a further exemption it can refuse to appoint gay clergy and some Dioceses stretch this to Reader. The Church, however, has no legal right to refuse to have a gay/lesbian.T/B communications officer. To ask questions about a person’s sexuality at interview for such a post would I believe be illegal.I really think CA should seek legal advice on this

    This version corrects the typos of the first one!

    Jean

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