In a significant move towards addressing historical inequalities stemming from its involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, Lloyd’s of London has announced a $50 million commitment to global development projects.
This pledge follows the market’s apology three years ago for its role in the transatlantic slave trade, which included providing crucial insurance for voyages and even insuring slaves as cargo.
Despite calls for direct financial compensation to descendants of enslaved individuals, Lloyd’s has opted to focus on supporting development initiatives.
Historical evidence linking Lloyd’s to the transatlantic slave trade will be revealed by the Black Beyond Data project at Johns Hopkins University.
The project, independently funded, will publish materials highlighting Lloyd’s central role in maintaining the Atlantic slave trade and profiting significantly from it. Notably, the documents include a risk book from the early 19th century belonging to Horatio Clagett, a senior member of Lloyd’s governing committee.
This book details underwriting information for over 60 voyages, shedding light on the relationships between Lloyd’s and the African Company of Merchants, a key player in the slave trade.
Bruce Carnegie-Brown, the current chair of Lloyd’s, expressed deep regret for the market’s historical involvement and stated that the $50 million pledge would be directed to areas directly affected by slavery.
The funds will be administered by the African Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, serving Latin America and the Caribbean. Carnegie-Brown emphasised the importance of creating opportunities for individuals with fewer prospects, especially from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
In addition to the financial commitment, Lloyd’s has taken steps to address diversity within the organisation. Since issuing its initial apology in 2020, the market has hired 3,000 people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and set ethnic-diversity hiring targets.
The company also plans to establish new programs for black and ethnic-minority talent and a permanent memorial at the Lloyd’s building to commemorate the victims of slavery.
While defending the decision to not offer direct financial compensation to descendants of enslaved individuals, Carnegie-Brown stated,
“I’m not persuaded that this is just about money. I think it needs to be about more than money, in terms of the engagement that we can have.” Acknowledging the complexity of the issue, Alexandre White, the assistant professor at Johns Hopkins leading the research project, noted that establishing an adequate solution is incredibly challenging, if not impossible.
However, he expressed confidence that Lloyd’s is striving to make meaningful change. The research materials are accessible at [underwritingsouls.org](https://underwritingsouls.org).