Greene King is moving to rename four pubs in its estate where the existing names have racist connotations, and will shortly be holding community votes on new names.

The pub company and brewer is renaming three pubs currently called The Black Boy, in Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury and Shinfield, as well as the Black’s Head in Wirksworth.

The renaming of these four pubs is part of Greene King’s inclusion and diversity strategy to champion equality and diversity within the company and further support people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Community groups are being notified ahead of an online poll shortly, so communities can pick from a list of suggestions for each of the four pubs.

The decision to change the name follows detailed consultation with a range of stakeholders and thorough research of the pubs’ histories.

While the pub name ‘Black Boy’ exists throughout the country, there is not a consensus on its origins and many of those consulted felt the name to be offensive and discriminatory.

Nick Mackenzie, Greene King CEO, said: “It is important to acknowledge our history but just as important to work proactively to eradicate racism in our society today.

“We have looked at pub deeds, consulted with colleagues and while the origins of these pub names are obscure what is clear is that there is a perception that they are linked with racism today and we want to make this positive change for the better.

“We know this is a decision that will attract a range of views and we’re conscious of the history and heritage of pub names. We’ve thought long and hard and feel this is the right thing to do as it is incredibly important to us that our pubs are warm and welcoming places for everyone as we continue on our journey to become a truly anti-racist organisation.

“We’re keen to involve local people in this project and look forward to working with them to choose a new and inclusive name for these pubs so they remain at the heart of communities.”

In 2020, Greene King pledged to significantly invest in initiatives to support more young people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds to begin a career in hospitality. As a result of this, last August, Greene King strengthened its partnership with the Prince’s Trust with a new five-year agreement, increasing funding by a third and pledging to create 1,000 opportunities for young people and an increased financial commitment to the charity linked to the diversity aims.

An employee-led group called Unity has also been created that represents Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and is formed from representatives across Greene King with the aim of creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Views from Unity were sought as part of Greene King’s consultation on how the names were perceived.

Last October also saw the launch of a year-long partnership between Greene King and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool to raise awareness and educate about the historic transatlantic slave trade.