Lloyd’s of London is to invest £52 million in racial equality causes after a report found it played a “significant role” in the transatlantic slave trade.
The chairman of the world’s largest insurance market said he was “deeply saddened” and stressed the company’s commitment to addressing current inequalities.
However, campaigners accused Lloyd’s of “laundering compensation”, and said the 335-year-old firm could do more.
An independent review by Johns Hopkins University into the links to the slave trade found that the London market played a “significant role” between the 17th and 19th centuries, with some using influence and knowledge to develop slave systems and to protect.
The research found that Lloyd’s was “part of a sophisticated network of financial interests and activities that made these activities possible”.
Researchers examined documents from the market’s archives, including ledgers showing insurers providing policies for ships that left Liverpool as part of the transatlantic slave trade.
Alexandre White, one of the professors behind the study, said in a video posted online: “Although the activities of insurers in the city of London seem far removed from the plantations, ships and violent prison spaces along the African coast, it helped the financial architectures developed at Lloyd’s to maintain the establishment of slavery.
“Insuring ships, cargo and people caught facilitated the growth of the transatlantic slave trade.”
The report was funded by the Mellon Foundation and Lloyd’s indicated that it had no editorial control over the findings. Lloyd’s said it would now invest £40 million in communities and regions affected by the slave trade.
It will also invest £12 million in a program aimed at supporting the recruitment and progression of black and other ethnic minority employees.
Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chairman of Lloyds of London, said: “We deeply regret this period of our history and the enormous suffering it has caused to individuals and communities today and today.
“We are determined to take action by addressing the inequalities that continue to be seen and suffered by black and diverse ethnic people: that is why we have launched Inclusive Futures, a comprehensive program of initiatives to help individuals and these communities go on from classroom to classroom. boardroom.”
However, Kehinde Andrews, professor of black studies at Birmingham City University, criticized Lloyd’s after it stopped direct compensation.
He said the firm’s efforts amounted to “laundering compensation”. Mr Andrews said: “This is PR – apologizing, making some promises, but this is not serious.”
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