Dear Findmypast Community,
In June, following events in the US and UK that highlighted just how much racism exists around us, I committed that Findmypast would take a number of actions to stand against racism. As UK Black History Month 2020 gets underway, this feels like the right moment to report back to you on the progress we have made so far, and what we are going to do next.
We started by listening and learning. We realised that for many in the company, the history of slavery and colonialism were not taught as part of the school curriculum. Therefore we have shared lists of books, podcasts and videos that illuminate black history. We held a series of education sessions for the company covering the British Empire, its role in the slave trade, its legacy, and the experience of people of Caribbean descent in Britain. We believe that if we are better informed on the subject, we are in a stronger position to make a difference through our work.
We then examined our collections of historical records and newspapers and asked ourselves the question - could these work harder to educate about the history of Black people in Britain? As a result of these investigations, the search experience for Jamaican and Caribbean birth, marriage and death records has been enhanced. We have added search filters for the Islands and corrected location and parish information, which helps our members to discover more relevant family records. Work is underway to improve the search experience for records from The Bahamas, Barbados, and for members of the Caribbean and African corps in the British Army Pension Records. We are standardising the names of African groups within these records so that our members can more easily search and filter results.
Our publishing roadmap has been expanded to include titles that shed light on many challenging aspects of British colonial history. Upcoming newspaper titles include The Civil and Military Gazette (Pakistan), The Dominica Chronicle, The Barbados Agricultural Reporter, and the St Kitts Daily Express. In October we will publish record sets including the Caribbean Marriage Index (1591-1905), London Black Poor (1786), Sierra Leone Scheme (1787), Jamaica births & baptisms, marriages and deaths and the Caribbean Rolls of Honour. We have started discussions with institutions that hold Black history archives to discuss how we might work together. And during Black History Month 2020 we will publish a range of content every day that shines a light on all areas of Black British history.
As a company, we have started to measure our diversity. Three-quarters of our employees participated in our first diversity & inclusion survey, and over 95% said that they feel included at Findmypast. We have reviewed business operations through a diversity lens and will continue to look at what areas need work. Findmypast will publish a report on diversity and inclusion by the end of the year.
Thank you to everyone who has shared your thoughts and suggestions with me in the past few months. Please keep the ideas coming, because they challenge us to do better and work together to build a more inclusive future in our company and industry.