One of our deepest prayers and most important objectives over the past year has been that Christianity Today should provide a work setting where the intelligent and kind and immensely talented women who serve this ministry could flourish.
Women and men at Christianity Today should be treated with equal dignity and professionalism. They should know they are respected and cared for and should have every opportunity to unfold their gifts for the glory of God and the good of the world.
After I came to the ministry in May 2019, it became progressively clear that our organization had work to do on this score. We are deeply grateful for the faithful labors of the men and women who came before us and put us in position to advance the stories and ideas of the kingdom of God all around the globe.
Yet many women at our ministry did not find that CT provided a healthy environment. When two women in September 2021 shared about their experiences of harassment by former employees, we lamented with them, asked their forgiveness, and sought to respond with wisdom and love. The employees they named had not been on staff for some time at that point, but their narratives stretched back many years and made it clear that our ministry had done less than love requires of us.
Earlier this year, we published an editorial on what we were learning, alongside an independent assessment of our culture and practices we had commissioned from Guidepost Solutions. In the interest of radical transparency, which we felt especially important for us as a journalistic institution, we also published an article in which one of our own reporters examined our ministry and released a podcast episode in which we responded to questions.
Our intention throughout has been to honor the women who shared their stories with us, confess where the ministry had failed, and reflect openly on how we and other organizations could avoid such failures in the future. In this moment when so much of the church is confronting its mistreatment of women, perhaps honesty about our own sins and shortcomings could serve the greater good.
It is past time to provide an update on our efforts.
Internal responses to these reports have varied. Many current employees joined the team after the misconduct occurred, and others worked in parts of Christianity Today where they never witnessed or experienced harassment. But many others were deeply relieved that something so painful and real was being openly discussed. All were grateful to the women who shared their stories and have taken the process seriously.
After allowing a little time for our colleagues to absorb the news, we held a company-wide meeting to answer questions and explain the process ahead. We then held three listening sessions, to which all staff were invited, so that everyone would have the opportunity to share their thoughts in a smaller group setting.
Independent professionals then hosted separate discussions in which women could speak about their concerns with other women and men could do the same with men. Importantly, we also formed a working group to examine all of Guidepost’s recommendations and develop our own ideas on how we might foster a culture in which all our employees could flourish. That task force has convened regularly and is due to deliver recommendations to the leadership team before the end of the year.
At the time of the report, I committed on behalf of the ministry to implement the six most urgent recommendations from Guidepost (found on pages 5–6). Let me treat the first five briefly, since they are easily summarized. We have retained external services for anonymous reporting of employee misconduct and made the contact information readily available to all employees (recommendation 1).
We have clarified HR processes and procedures and elevated the authority of HR within the ministry (recommendations 2–3) by hiring a vice president of human resources and naming her to the leadership team. Her impact has been immediate and profoundly positive. We have initiated a series of internal discussions on harassment (recommendation 4) and established a communications schedule to ensure that leadership continues to reinforce the message that harassment will not be tolerated. Finally, we have also commenced (per recommendation 5) full background checks on all new employees.
The sixth recommendation from Guidepost Solutions was that CT should “develop an actionable plan for recruiting and retaining women and diverse candidates.” At the time of the report, having just lost a woman leader to retirement, we only had one woman on our leadership team. Today, through new hires and promotions, we have four women on the leadership team and others who have been moved into upper management positions.
We conducted a pay equity study and found that men were paid 2 percent more than women for positions of equal responsibility. The positional inequity is more stark, with senior positions held disproportionately by men. This reflects historic hiring and promotion practices and the fact that the men who have led the ministry (including myself) have tended to hire senior positions from within their networks, which are generally more male than female. The recent hires and promotions of women into senior leadership are a first deposit on correcting the balance. More will come.
Some of our critics view this as feminism run amok. We view it as common sense. Perspectives and experiences matter. If our senior leadership possesses very little experience of what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace, we are collectively less informed than we should be.
We do hire on the basis of merit—Christianity Today is blessed to have an abundance of talented men and women who would like to work with us, so we do not need to sacrifice merit for representation. But there is individual merit as well as the collective merit of the team. We believe we can better serve our staff and readership, and better speak to and from the church in all its diversity, when our leadership better represents women and people of color. We have made progress and we are determined that we should continue to do so.
Christianity Today stands within an American evangelical tradition. It’s a tradition we love, but one that has too often belittled the talents of women and treated them as objects instead of full subjects of the kingdom of God with their own remarkable gifts and callings.
Whether one comes from a complementarian or egalitarian setting, or neither, one can recognize that the church is better, stronger, and truer to the example of Christ when it allows women full scope to express all their capacities, including capacities for leadership. We yearn to see this in the body of Christ, and if we wish to see it in the world then we must start with ourselves.
Timothy Dalrymple is the president and CEO of Christianity Today.