Learning from the Past to Build a Better Future: Reflections from the Church Commissioners’ Journey
We are delighted to welcome Alan Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner at The Church of England, as the first Bayes Craft Lecture speaker. Alan worked in banking at HSBC for 27 years before taking this role, and believes commitment to sustainable and responsible investing is a source of great value and opportunity - “If values drive value, good business is good business.”
The lecture will be opened by Dr Paul Lashmar, Reader in Journalism at City, University of London. A former investigative journalist, Dr Lashmar has written about slavery and reparations for The Observer and Conversation.
The event will be hosted by Malla Pratt, Director for Racial Equity and Inclusion, and opening remarks will be made by the Dean of Bayes, Andre Spicer.
About the Craft Lecture Series
The new Bayes Craft lecture series creates a space to reflect on topics of inequality and social justice. We will explore the context of different historical power dynamics and consider how we deal with the consequences of colonialism and engage in initiatives towards a sustainable future.
The series celebrates the achievements of Ellen and William Craft, as representatives of those who globally fought against the slave trade. The Crafts were freedom fighters – refugees from slavery who became campaigners for its abolition. A black married couple, Ellen and William were both born into slavery in Georgia in the 1820s but managed to flee to England in 1850. In 1860 they produced an account of their daring escape entitled “Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom”. The Crafts returned to Boston in 1869, after the US Civil War had ended, and set up a school for the newly freed.
More about this event
The Church Commissioners for England is the in-perpetuity endowment fund established in 1704 to support the mission of the Church of England in England. Its establishment coincided with a tsunami of capital that flooded into London in the 1700s as a result of the Transatlantic Chattel Slave Trade. The impact of this has lasted right through to today. In 2019 the Church Commissioners examined its links with the Slave Trade and the findings, reflections, and response were published in a report in early 2023.
This inaugural Craft Lecture describes the Church Commissioners' motivations, approach, and lessons learned. It reflects on how understanding our past empowers corporates and institutions to make better decisions in the present and for the future, especially where the existential challenges of our day such as Climate Change and AI are concerned. It concludes that this journey into history is essential for corporates and institutions everywhere to truly embrace both the opportunities and responsibilities of our day.
Alan Smith is First Church Estates Commissioner of the Church of England. He was appointed to the role in October 2021 after a 27-year career in banking at HSBC. Prior to that, Alan had an 8-year stint at KPMG London where he trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Alan is a Bayes Business School alumnus, completing his MBA in Finance there as a U.K. Commonwealth Scholar.
Dr Paul Lashmar is a Reader in Journalism at City, University of London and is a former Head of the Department (2019-2021). Paul has been an investigative journalist on the staff of The Observer, Granada TV’s World in Action current affairs series and The Independent. Since 2020 he has been writing about slavery and reparations for The Observer and Conversation. He has also just written an unauthorised History of the Drax family of Dorset who still own the former slave plantation at Drax Hall in Barbados.
This event will be hosted by Malla Pratt, Director for Racial Equity and Inclusion at Bayes Business School.
In 2020 Malla co-chaired BAME Consultative report that helped provide the school with a road map to improving race equity, she was later appointed as Director of Racial Equity and Inclusion. Since her appointment she has developed a number of important initiatives including the Racial Equity and Inclusion Network (REIN), Inclusive Teamwork workshop for MSc and UG students, EDI staff workshops, launched the UG Black Scholarship and the Craft Lecture Series.