Thinking Anglicans

Following up on the Green Report

Updated Friday

As the next General Synod meeting approaches, where several questions have been tabled about the Green Report, there have also been several articles published about it.

Andrew Lightbown has written The Green Report: ‘authors of the apocalypse?’ I think so.

..It is so shot full of assumptions as to beggar belief. It is the product of romantic and lazy thinking, especially with respect to the ‘cult of the leader,’ and the capacity of business school style training to offer appropriate forms of training outside the world of business. (It has many other faults as well – but lets leave these to one side).

I hope the report disappears into the long grass never to be seen again.I strongly believe that the style of management, and leadership, training it proposes will do real and long lasting damage to the Church and, therefore society for, a healthy society needs a healthy church.

My reasoning is that the proposals seek to mimic a mode of training that has caused significant damage in the corporate world

Mike Higton has adopted a different approach in a series of five articles headed Re-Reading the Green Report, in which

Rather than setting out yet another critique, I want to try for retrieval and repair.

The five articles are:

Update

Andrew Lightbown has a response: Four questions to ask of the Green Review at Synod.

I’ve enjoyed Mike Higton’s blogs on the Green Review. I appreciate his analysis of the text and, the reconciliatory tone he adopts. I agree with the majority of what he says and, I hope Synod take on board his critique.

I have read, and re-read, the report and still find it difficult to accept that its recommendations can do anything other than damage the common good. My starting point has always been that the recommendations are an extension of the authors subjective biases and assumptions.

Below are four sets of questions which I hope might be useful when debating the report at Synod next week…

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Stevie GambleErika BakerExRevdRobertLaurence Cunnington Recent comment authors
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Stephen Barney
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Stephen Barney

As a business leader who is a Christian, I believe that the servant leadership model as exemplified by our Lord applies equally in the secular as in the church, also we the church can learn something from secular models of good leadership practice, for those disturbed by the Green report look for what wisdom we the church can benefit from, God and Christian practice is not absent from the business world!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Within the Body of Christ, Saint Paul tells us, there are all the gifts available for the Church ot be a significant enterprise in the way of salvation. (See 1 Corinthians: 12, 13, 14 & 15) From Pastors and Teachers to Administrators; there is an opening for all the gifts to be exercised. What the Green Report seems to suggest is that the clergy ought to be ‘on top of’ the business of Church administration – an idea following on from the paternalistic attitude of a male-dominated ministry team that ‘manages’ everything – from presiding at the Eucharist, to deciding… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

Stephen Barney Whilst I am sure that your heart is in the right place I fear that your grasp of the law relating to corporate entities is rather lacking. The obligation of the officers of a company is to maximise profits for the shareholders of that company; they and they alone reap the benefits. Of course, those holding very senior positions may, and do, award themselves huge bonuses, but that is justified by the claim that in doing so they are retaining for the company the skills which will maximise the profits for the shareholders. By the same token, paying… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Judging from today’s newspaper reports about HSBC and Lord Green’s refusal to answer questions on its tax avoidance practices and policies, one has to ask again whether he is the right person to be leading the Church’s drive to be more business like. Is this what MBAs lead to?

Alastair Newman
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And now it turns out that HSBC were doing this, whilst Stephen Green was at the helm:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31248913

ExRevd
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ExRevd

Think this article speaks for itself:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/09/margaret-hodge-accuses-ex-chairman-lord-stephen-green-over-hsbc-files

To borrow an expression current in the secular world, OMG.

Stephen Barney
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Stephen Barney

Stevie,

Delighted, as a public company director and a lay reader, I found being salt and light in the world (in the world but not of the world) a very interesting challenge.

I did try to square the circle of profits for the shareholders and good employment conditions for the workforce. Philanthropic companies have flourished (Cadbury model or co-operatives e.g. John Lewis). I would be interested to know what drives your cynical comments!

Stephen Barney
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Stephen Barney

one further thought if I may, when the Transport and General Workers Union Full Time official said some years later ” We knew we could trust you because you are a Christian ” it did seem like having made a difference!

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

Stephen, A factual statement relating to the legal position of corporate bodies is not ‘cynical’. It’s a factual statement, which you have made no attempt to rebut. Attempting to square the circle isn’t possible when it comes to legal obligations, and it is misleading to suggest that the structure of John Lewis or Cadburys are common in the business world; they are, in fact, very rare. in the interests of full disclosure I should note that I am a retired Inspector of Taxes; my final position was as a specialist technical advisor on the taxation of financial institutions and financial… Read more »

Pam Smith
Guest

I also hope Synod addresses the implications of adopting the recommendations of the former head of HSBC in reorganising our corporate priorities re training and deployment.

However, since (if I’ve understood it right) the Green Report can be implemented without requiring the agreement of General Synod, I will be interested to see if any discussion of any aspect of its implementation is possible during the forthcoming session.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Public discussion of this is becoming “shoot the messenger” – there are undoubted issues with the report, but the status quo has issues as great, and institutional drift is an inadequate response.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

The Guardian editorial today (Tuesday) makes explicit the link between Lord Green’s activities or lack of them at HBSC and his report into the organisation of the Church.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I’m fascinated by the idea that paying people decent wages runs counter to the requirement to maximise profits for shareholders.

Shareholders are not necessarily interested in short term gain but may be interested in the long term welfare of the company. And it is well known by now that the better you treat your staff the higher their productivity and the greater your customer satisfaction.
It’s only a matter of time until this pendulum swings back again and we recognise that those societies who do best, and those companies who do best, are those with a sound social ethic.

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

“I very much hope that the Synod recognises the extent of the damage which would be done if the Church adopts it…” Stevie Gamble

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any ‘if’ about it. The ‘Talent Management’ jobs have already been advertised and are in the process of being filled. I also recall Pete Broadbent saying that it was none of Synod’s business!

Robert
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Robert

Can I re-echo Mark Bennet’s remark above?
Fine to have issues with the report, but I think it’s crazy to think the status quo works well.
Attacks on Stephen Green and the HSBC dodginess in Switzerland. I think are a distraction. I prefer people disagreeing with the report on its own terms.
But if you disagree, do you really think that currently we have ‘best practice’?

ExRevd
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ExRevd

A comment from below the line on the Guardian editorial (yes it really is this serious): “By happy coincidence, the General Synod of the Church of England will debate tomorrow Lord Green’s recent report on spotting and grooming clerical talent. Or, at any rate, it is due to do so. His wisdom is therefore now to be applied in choosing the custodians of many of this country’s most important historic buildings, in choosing the authorities responsible for vast landed estates and investment portfolios, in choosing the media’s and many public bodies’ go-to sources of moral and spiritual guidance, and in… Read more »

Stevie Gamble
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Stevie Gamble

Lest it be thought that I am being unfair to highlight the activities of HSBC under the leadership of Lord Green I think it may be helpful to provide another example. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs notoriously claimed to be ‘doing God’s work’ whilst paying vast sums to himself and his staff as the global financial markets disintegrated under the weight of derivative instruments created by Goldman Sachs and other banks, including HSBC. Forbes Magazine has an interesting article on how they set about ‘doing God’s work’ with the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund http://www.forbes.com/sites/afontevecchia/2014/10/09/doing-gods-work-with-the-devil-goldman-sachs-business-with-gadhafis-sovereign-wealth-fund/ I think it’s helpful to ask… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Stevie,
yes, companies do get it wrong, badly. But they’re rightly being criticised for it, and none has cited their legal obligation to shareholders in defence of tax avoidance.

It is perfectly legal for a company to act morally and with care for its employees.

Stevie Gamble
Guest
Stevie Gamble

Erica I do not dispute that it is perfectly legal for companies to act morally and with care for its employees. Unusual, yes, but not illegal. No-one has stated that HSBC was avoiding tax; it was providing means to its customers for them to evade tax, thus generating profits for the bank. There is a very substantial difference between avoidance and evasion; tax evasion is a criminal offence. As for seeking to justify it, Lord Green has refused to make any comment at all. No doubt he has taken legal advice but the Public Accounts Committee has the power to… Read more »