• Sunday, June 26, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Llyod’s of London, Greene King rue past slavery links, pledge funding for BAME initiatives

Lloyd’s said it would invest in programmes to attract black and minority ethnic talent, and also review “organisational artefacts, to ensure that they are explicitly non-racist”.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye Staff

TWO prominent British firms have expressed regret over their founders’ roles in 18th and 19th century slave trade, and pledged financial support to charities and organisations promoting opportunities for black and ethnic minority groups.

Popular pub chain and brewer Greene King and Llyod’s of London  insurance market announced on Wednesday (17) evening that they would be making the reparations, as University College London archive documents revealed their past links to slavery.

When the British empire abolished slavery in 1833, the government had paid compensations — not to the victims — but to the slaveholders. And founding partners of Greene King and Llyod’s had had benefited from those payments.

“It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s,” Greene King’s chief executive Nick Mackenzie told The Telegraph on Wednesday.

“We don’t have all the answers, so that is why we are taking time to listen and learn from all the voices, including our team members and charity partners, as we strengthen our diversity and inclusion work.”

Mackenzie added that the company would make “substantial investment to benefit the BAME community and support our race diversity in the business as we increase our focus on targeted work in this area”.

Noting that recent events had “shone a spotlight” on inequality, Lloyd’s apologised for its past links to slave trade, and promised “financial support to charities and organisations promoting opportunity and inclusion for black and minority ethnic groups”.

“We are sorry for the role played by the Lloyd’s market in the eighteenth and nineteenth Century slave trade — an appalling and shameful period of English history, as well as our own,” said a Lloyd’s spokesperson.

“Recent events have shone a spotlight on the inequality that black people have experienced over many years as a result of systematic and structural racism that has existed in many aspects of society and unleashed difficult conversations that were long overdue.”

Lloyd’s said it would invest in programmes to attract black and minority ethnic talent, and also review “organisational artefacts, to ensure that they are explicitly non-racist”.

According to reports, many companies — including Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank, HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group — had  been “found to have benefited directly or indirectly from the slavery payments”.

In the biggest deportation in known history, weapons and gunpowder from Europe were swapped for millions of African slaves who were then shipped across the Atlantic to the Americas. Ships returned to Europe with sugar, cotton and tobacco.

Around 17 million African men, women and children were torn from their homes and shackled into one of the world’s most brutal globalized trades between the 15th and 19th centuries. Many died in merciless conditions.

Those who survived endured a life of subjugation on sugar, tobacco and cotton plantations. Britain abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807 although the full abolition of slavery did not follow for another generation.

Eastern Eye

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