1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

British firms promise to compensate for slavery links

June 18, 2020

Two British companies with historical links to the slave trade have pledged to invest in projects supporting black and other minority ethnic communities. Lloyds and Greene King were listed on a slavery legacy database.

Archive image of a 2013 anti-slavery protest in front of Britain's Parliament.
Image: Getty Images/P. Macdiarmid

Insurance giant Lloyd's of London and the pub chain Greene King on Thursday pledged to financially support projects that help ethnic minorities. 

The companies made the commitments in light of their links to the slave trade. Both firms were included in a database of companies compiled by University College London (UCL).

Read more:  Britain, slavery and unfinished business

Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who was among the 47,000 people who received compensation paid to slave owners when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833. Greene gave up three plantations in Montserrat and St. Kitts for the equivalent of 500,000 pounds (€555,000, $628,000) in today's currency.

"It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s," Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said. "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."

In Humboldt's Footsteps: Slavery, the Greatest of All Evils

The records also show that Simon Fraser, a founder subscriber member to Lloyds, was given the equivalent of 400,000 pounds for his estate in Dominica. Founded in 1688, Lloyds also insured slave ships.

"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," said a statement from Lloyds. "We will provide financial support to charities and organisations promoting opportunity and inclusion for black and minority ethnic groups."

Read more:  Opinion: Let's topple statues to decolonize

The promises were made as the UK grapples with its legacy of the slave trade in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The movement has gained renewed prominence amid global protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during an arrested by white policeman in the United States. Earlier this month, protesters in the southwestern English city of Bristol pulled down a bronze statue of the 17th century slave trader Edward Colston. The statue was dumped in the local harbor.

rc/msh (AFP, AP)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (in lilac tie) is escorted from the House floor after a Tuesday afternoon vote
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage