Ethos statements

Why is ethos important?

The word ethos is important because the Equality Act 2010 says that churches and Christian organisations may recruit staff on the basis of their religion or belief only when they can show that, "having regard to that ethos and to the nature or context of the work - (a) it is an occupational requirement, (b) the application of the requirement is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim, and (c) the person to whom A (the organisation) applies the requirement does not meet it (or A has reasonable grounds for not being satisfied that the person meets it)."

What is ethos?

Most readers will be familiar with organisational culture - "the way we do things around here", and personal values - my fundamental attitudes and motives that underpin the ways I think and behave. But what is an organisation's ethos? Longman's dictionary defines ethos as the "Spirit of the people as expressed in its culture, institutions, ways of thought, philosophy and religion".

What is the ethos of Christian organisations?

Applying this definition to a Christian organisation, ethos is an expression not so much of the "spirit of the people" as of the Holy Spirit in the people - the organisation's ethos is an expression of the work of the Holy Spirit in employees' lives. So we regard an organisation's ethos as the identity of the organisation - demonstrated by how we do things, the values and convictions that unite and motivate us, the way people relate and the overall 'atmosphere', or culture.

Ethos, then, is about culture and values, but more than that it's about the organisation's identity, and it's about people's relationships, convictions and motivations and how these affect organisational life.

The section on "Christian Identity" gives more background to our thinking about ethos.