Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Updated 1st December 2021

Port Sunlight Village Trust is custodian of an incredibly special heritage site. Our role is to care for Port Sunlight’s heritage and to use it to inspire, educate and entertain. Our vision is clear, ‘to make Port Sunlight an inspiring place to live, work and visit’. Respect is one of our core charitable values; we value diversity and aspire to treat everyone fairly. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought this into sharp focus.

The problem

We know that we do not currently explore some difficult and challenging aspects of William Lever’s business practices in our museum and public spaces.

We now commit to telling a fuller and more balanced story

  • We will talk about the negative impact of William Lever’s colonialist enterprises in Central Africa and elsewhere.
  • We will explore the impact of these business practices on African and other communities, both near and far.
  • We will highlight racism, in all forms, in telling this story.

We want to meet the challenge of telling a fuller story about William Lever with our partners, our community, and our visitors. We will help bring new meaning to Port Sunlight’s heritage, to encourage fresh perspectives and conversation.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

We are sharing this history to acknowledge our past but, more importantly, to signal that as an organisation we are on a journey towards openness, transparency and the creation of an inclusive culture for all.

The challenge does not end with the story of William Lever. We must also take a proactive approach to dealing with inequalities within our own organisation and the wider village community.

Our progress

There is a high level of commitment to achieving our vision and we have made the following progress:

  • Established the Promoting Equity steering group to provide strategic over-sight, challenge our thinking, and advocate externally on our behalf.
  • Completed an independent and robust review of PSVT’s policies, practices, procedures and communications in relation to equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Secured funding with the Institute for Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester for an 18-month project that will enable communities to explore more fully the difficult and challenging aspects of William Lever’s business practices in our museum and public spaces.
  • Established a partnership approach to understanding Port Sunlight’s full history with Unilever and National Museums Liverpool.
  • Published a booklet sharing what we currently know about William Lever’s business operations in the Belgian Congo during the early 20th century for visitors to Port Sunlight Museum.

What next?

Our work continues with the same level of energy. We will:

  • Make progress towards embedding a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusivity at PSVT by implementing an organisational improvement plan and participating in the MDUK Equity in Museums Programme.
  • Commission an access audit of the village estate.
  • Continue to work with our partners on a long-term research programme and establish an independent research panel to provide oversight.
  • Begin to work with the PSVT workforce, local communities, village visitors and other external stakeholders to transform the ways in which Port Sunlight’s history and collections are interpreted and understood.
  • Review the museum collection and our heritage assets within Port Sunlight village to identify past and present associations with racism and colonialism.