On the day the synod on child abuse convened by the Vatican began, Dione Hills and Leslie Brissett were in Canterbury, contributing to a seminar series on “Human(ising) organisations”, run by Christ Church Canterbury University Business School and the Intersectional Centre for Inclusion and Social Justice (INCISE). In this seminar, we explored particular challenges faced by spiritual and religious organisations.
One of the key questions explored was whether spiritual and religious organisations are more prone than other organisations to ethical lapses, or whether it is the contrast between such lapses and the espoused mission of such organisations, that makes such lapses particularly visible – and disturbing.
There are many ways of looking at this question, but one key difficulty faced by many spiritual organisations is the tension that exists between spiritual aspirations and the practicalities of creating and managing a successful organisation.
There may be a denial of the expertise that is needed to manage an organisation and put in place the structures and processes needed to effectively address ethical ‘lapses’. Behind this, there may also be a profound reluctance to acknowledge the ‘shadow’ side of human (and organisational) experience, combined with secrecy and a lack of transparency around any ethical lapses that do occur.
This seminar drew on the early stages of a new project exploring the challenges faced by spiritual and religious organisations, and resources they use when faced with these challenges.
Dione Hills, photo by Patrick de Vries
Leslie Brissett, photo by Patrick de Vries