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14th April 2021

Slavery Connections – Joseph Rowntree Foundation recognises historic links

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In April, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation issued an apology in recognition that organisations linked to Joseph Rowntree benefitted from the trade of raw materials during the colonial era. A recent review of the group’s historic operations conducted by the Rowntree Society discovered the purchase of materials which were the products of slavery.

The trustees of the Foundation have emphasised the need to recognise that the charity has links to slavery and are committed to ensuring that slavery occupies a more prominent part of the charity’s history. It will do this by committing funds to the Rowntree Society to investigate the history of organisations linked to Joseph Rowntree in greater detail.

Moving forwards, the Foundation aims to be both an anti-poverty organisation and an anti-racist organisation, suggesting it cannot fulfil its charitable purposes without recognising and acting upon issues of racial injustice.

Given the increasing relevance of historical links to slavery and the importance of tackling racial injustice more generally, we recommend that you take time to review your charity’s history and current policies to ensure it is as inclusive as possible.

If you would like to speak to a solicitor about your charity’s policies, and your diversity and inclusion policy in particular, please contact a member of our team to see if we can assist.