The two companies will make donations to black and minority ethnic groups. Credit: PA
Two of the UK’s largest companies have apologised for their historic links to the slave trade.
Pub chain Greene King and insurance market Lloyd’s of London have also vowed to devote large sums to projects assisting minorities, after they were named in a database of companies connected to slavery compiled by University College London.
The list is a sign of how Britain’s past involvement with the slave trade – which has led to statues being pulled down – has begun to impact on the corporate sector.
Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene, who became one of 47,000 people who benefited from compensation paid to slave owners when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833.
Greene surrendered rights to three plantations in the West Indies in return for what amounts to £500,000 in today’s money.
While Greene King’s past connections to slavery are not mentioned on the company’s website, chief executive Nick Mackenzie told the Daily Telegraph the company would update its site on Thursday, while he also offered an apology for that chapter of the pub chain’s history.
“It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s,” he told the paper.
“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.”
Mr Mackenzie said Greene King would make a “substantial investment” to benefit black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and work to support its own race diversity.
With regard to Lloyd’s, the database shows that Simon Fraser, a founder subscriber member, was given £400,000 in today’s money to give up an estate in Dominica.
A Lloyd’s spokesman told the Telegraph: “We are sorry for the role played by the Lloyd’s market in the 18th and 19th century slave trade.
“We will provide financial support to charities and organisations promoting opportunity and inclusion for black and minority ethnic groups.”