Sunday, 10 January 2010

Taking bullying seriously: The Church of England

This morning's Radio 4 Sunday programme included a fascinating news item concerning bullying of ministers within the established church. But banish the idea of a bullying bishop or a vengeful verger: most of the reported bullying, intimidation and harassment comes from the parishioners rather than the clergy.

The issue is clearly being treated seriously not only within the church but within the UK Trade Union movement.

Responding to claims of abuse, harassment and bullying, the Church of England has issued a Dignity at Work booklet, offering “practical advice to help prevent bullying and harassment, and to deal with any cases that occur”

A telephone helpline has been set up by the Faith Workers Branch of the trade union Unite, which says intimidation of ministers and priests from all denominations is a hidden problem. A bishop is among the 150 clergy and ministers who have sought protection with the trade union Unite from what it describes as a culture of bullying in the established Church. Apparently most of those who have sought help are members of the Church of England but Roman Catholic priests, rabbis and imams have also joined Unite, according to the national officer for the union’s faith workers’ branch.

The natural response to such cases may be one of surprise or even an accusation of hypocrisy. After all, surely the church is the last place where you'd expect to encounter such behaviour, isn't it?

But rather than criticise the church, it would be more appropriate to applaud it for implementing good business practice firstly by accepting that a problem exists and subsequently introduding processes to address it in a sensitive and effective manner.

Radio 4 Sunday Programme

Times Online: Clergy and ministers need protection from Church bullying, Unite union says

Unite (Trade Union): Faith workers branch members’ information

Church of England: Dignity at Work booklet

  • HR Professionals: if your organisation has introduced an anti-bullying policy, has it been effective?
  • Business Studies Students: assuming that your school has an anti-bullying policy, how effective do you believe that it has been, and how would it transfer into a work environment?
  • Clerics: is there a reluctance to admit that bullying behaviour actually occurs within the church?

1 comment:

  1. It is all very well producing a booklet, but when clergy are in denial about the bullying that goes on in their church it is not much use.
    It is only when the congregation starts to dwindle that questions are asked and by that time it is too late.