Fidelis Insurance Bermuda Limited (Fidelis) and the National Museum of Bermuda (NMB) have partnered to launch a corporate-specific educational programme for all Fidelis employees entitled “Exploring History Through a Corporate Lens”. The programme consists of interactive, participatory workshops using multiple perspectives to delve into the history of enslavement, emancipation, and segregation in Bermuda. Participants are introduced to critical thinking methods that unpack the historical topics, challenge biases, and encourage discussion and reflection on how to apply what they learned to their work and personal lives.
Fidelis is a strong proponent of diversity, equity, and inclusion and thereby recognises the value of bringing context and understanding to the various initiatives they undertake. In 2018, Fidelis led the insurance market by creating an anti-slavery working party with Aon, Marsh and the Lloyd’s Market Association establishing an anti-slavery clause for marine cargo insurance policy wordings. Fidelis, who also have offices in London and Dublin, see Bermuda as more than just a place to live, work and enjoy. The company is keen to acknowledge and better understand the history of the jurisdictions it operates in. Fidelis’ aim is to bring greater appreciation for the island of Bermuda, its culture and the story of its people. A partnership with NMB was a natural alignment and their shared passions help to further this mandate.
The NMB team designed this programme specifically for Fidelis to not only deepen employee understanding of Bermuda history, but to explore assumptions, challenge biases and learn historical thinking skills. In the workshops, participants are introduced to key features of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, enslavement in Bermuda and illustrative instances of personal and collective agency in the context of enslavement. They examine key events, personal stories and legislation leading up toward Emancipation and the strategies to enforce and resist segregation. Participants use inquiry-based learning to critically analyse and reflect on historical events, images and objects and are encouraged to apply what they learn to their work and personal lives.
Fidelis’ Bermuda CEO, Philip Vandoninck, who is the lead sponsor of the programme said: “Fidelis is eager to better understand the community it operates in and identify ways to make the international business community an inclusive place to work. Understanding how history has shaped society on this island is a core component of this, and I am keen for our employees to understand the historical events that have shaped Bermudian society. Fidelis is delighted to partner with NMB, who have gone above and beyond to create a programme that educates our employees on the societal challenges of Bermuda. Fidelis first supported NMB in 2020 and this relationship was further strengthened in 2021 following the involvement of The Fidelis Foundation, which alongside the strong support of Fidelis’ Group CEO, Richard Brindle, has allowed for the development of this, and other NMB educational programmes.”
When asked about the programme, NMB Executive Director Elena Strong said: “learning history is central to understanding contemporary issues. Our top priorities at NMB include deepening understanding of Bermuda’s diverse and complex past for all and a commitment to promoting life-long learning and facilitating community engagement and participation. This programme does just that and we are thrilled to be partnering with Fidelis to pilot these workshops.”
Strong further added, “The Fidelis Foundation’s generous support has not only allowed for the creation of this new corporate programme but also the development and implementation of other NMB education programmes that are serving educators and students from public and private schools island-wide to shift how Bermuda history is shared and taught in the classroom.”
The “Exploring History Through a Corporate Lens” workshops are led by NMB Director of Learning and Engagement, Lisa Howie, with support from Curator Dr. Deborah Atwood and Curatorial Intern Chynna Trott. To date, NMB has delivered Part 1 of the programme, a total of six workshops to over 200 Fidelis employees from Ireland, London and Bermuda. Part II of the programme will be rolling out in March.
Feedback from Fidelis employees include:
“These sessions made me realise the untold history that we didn’t really know much about.”
“That was a genuinely informative session…the statistics and the stories were quite harrowing. This has fuelled my knowledge… this sort of detail has never been explained to me before, both from what conditions were like on both sides of the Atlantic, along with the abuse, travel conditions and everything else.”
The National Museum of Bermuda a non-government non-profit and is Bermuda Registered Charity No. 136.