Shortlists for senior Church of England roles must include at least one ethnic minority candidate, a taskforce set up in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests has recommended.
The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce has made 47 recommendations to improve diversity and stamp out racism in the Church. These include annual reporting on recruitment, mandatory training to embed anti-racism practice, and the appointment of full-time racial justice officers in every diocese for a five-year term.
Its report has been published shortly after BBC Panorama found a number of ethnic minority staff in the Church of England were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements to “buy their silence” after making complaints of racism.
The taskforce warned that failure to change the culture of the Church could be the “last straw” for many people from a minority ethnic background, which would have “devastating effects” on its future.
It said in the statement: “Decades of inaction carry consequences and this inaction must be owned by the whole Church.
“A failure to act now will be seen as another indication, potentially a last straw for many, that the Church is not serious about racial sin.”
The report accepts the definition of institutional racism adopted by the Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence – covering processes, attitudes and behaviour, which amount to discrimination – as applying to the Church of England.
Only five out of 111 bishops, and nine deans, archdeacons and senior staff, have an ethnic minority heritage, it finds.
Other recommendations include:
- New approaches to shortlisting and interviewing which place a duty on the employer to improve the ability for under-represented groups to apply.
- Reqiring recruitment bodies including the Crown Nominations Commission, which nominates diocesan bishops, to provide “valid, publishable reasons” for failure to include ethnic minority candidates on shortlists.
- Ensuring 30% of new intakes on the Strategic Leadership Development Programme – a scheme to support clergy identified as having potential for taking on wider responsibilities – come from an ethnic minority background.
In a statement, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said: “We welcome this report from the Anti-Racism Taskforce, which we commissioned last year to help us understand what progress we might have made towards tackling racism in the Church of England.
“Having scrutinised reports and recommendations from the last 35 years, the taskforce have identified many things which must change; things which have been called for before and have not been done.
“We hope we will be the generation to halt this cycle of inaction. We pray for the wisdom, courage and grace to be leaders who will bring real change.”