Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

A fuller and more balanced story of William Lever and Port Sunlight’s heritage

Port Sunlight Village Trust is custodian of an incredibly unique heritage site. Our role is to care for Port Sunlight’s heritage and to use it to inspire, educate and entertain. Respect and knowledge are two of our core charitable values. We prize diversity and aspire to treat everyone fairly; we strive to use our understanding of the past to help benefit the present. The reality of these values was brought into sharp focus by the international outcry against systemic racism, led by the Black Lives Matter movement, following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.

The problem

We recognise that we have not fully explored the problematic aspects of the business enterprises practised by Port Sunlight’s founder, William Lever, in our museum or public spaces. This simply does not live up to our core values.

We now commit to telling a fuller and more balanced story

We want to meet the challenge of reflecting a broader, unflinching picture of the past, while also tackling inequalities within our own organisation and the wider community. Our aim is to bring new meaning to Port Sunlight’s heritage, encouraging discussion and fresh perspectives in support of positive social change.


We will:
  • Piece together and share the history of William Lever’s global colonialist enterprises.
  • Examine the harmful impact these business practices have had on communities of the Global Majority, both past and present.
  • Highlight and tackle racism in all its forms.
  • Act responsively on feedback, as we continue to evolve our anti-racist practice.


Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

We are exploring Port Sunlight’s history to acknowledge our past but, even more importantly, to signal that we are on a journey towards openness, transparency, and the creation of an inclusive local culture for all.


Our progress

Through our commitment to this vision, we have made the following progress:

  • Established the Promoting Equity steering group to challenge our thinking, ensure socially just strategies, 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, in partnership with the University of Manchester’s Institute for Cultural Practices, for an 18-month project led by a Inclusive Heritage Associate. This activity enabled communities to explore William Lever’s colonialist business practices in our museum and public spaces.
  • Established a collaborative approach to understanding Port Sunlight’s full history with our partners Unilever and National Museums Liverpool.
  • Published a booklet sharing what we know so far about William Lever’s business operations in the former Belgian Congo (today’s Democratic Republic of the Congo) during the early 20th century, for visitors to Port Sunlight Museum.
  • Participated in the MDUK Equity in Museums programme.


What next?

Our work continues with the same level of dedication and energy.


In 2024/25, we will:
  • Create an embedded culture of equity, diversity, and inclusivity at PSVT, by progressing the implementing an organisational improvement plan. This will be driven by our dedicated working group of staff and volunteers.
  • Continue our review of the museum collection and our heritage assets within Port Sunlight village to identify past and present associations with racism and colonialism. This includes our on-going research and interpretation of colonial associations of the architects behind Port Sunlight’s iconic buildings.
  • Continue to develop a research programme alongside our partners, supported by a steering committee, to meaningfully address Port Sunlight’s colonial links.
  • Collaborate with the PSVT workforce, local communities, and other external stakeholders to thoughtfully present Port Sunlight’s colonial legacy in our museum, in the public realm, and online.