Church Commissioners Written Answer: diversity in church leadership

On 15th October 2018 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered a written question from Stephen Doughty MP on diversity in leadership positions in the church:

Stephen Doughty(Cardiff South and Penarth): To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps are being taken to promote greater diversity by (a) gender (b) ethnicity and (c) sexual orientation in leadership positions within the Church.

Dame Caroline Spelman: Increasing diversity among the clergy is a priority for the Church of England. Nationally the Church has set a target that it will increase the overall number of people recommended for training by 50% over a five-year period. The Church is well on the way to deliver this and has already seen a 22% increase in those entering training since 2016.

The Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council has developed programmes to support those who are being called to the priesthood from as wide a range of communities and backgrounds as possible. Members of the Crown Nominations Commission who are involved in the recruitment and discernment process for the most senior appointments also undergo unconscious bias training.

During 2018 the Church recommended 316 women for training, which was 54% of the total. This represents the highest proportion of women entering training that the Church has seen in the last ten years.

The most recent data from 2017 shows that around 6% of those entering training self-identify as being from a minority ethnic background. The Church responded by recruiting a National ME Vocations Officer to address this underrepresentation of minority ethnic clergy and through the “Turning up the Volume” programme is supporting future senior leaders.

The Ordained Vocations Mentor Directory was also created to help support those at any stage on the journey towards ordained vocations who would like a mentor.

The Church of England does not record or keep data on the sexual orientation of candidates.