Aiken PR

The Briefing

Our View – July 2016

by Aiken PR


The immense implications of Brexit have been beset upon us with immediate effect in time for the summer as sterling fell like a duck diving for fish.

Like a dark cloud on a sunny day that lingers and refuses to go away.  You think it’ll pass when all of a sudden it is front and centre and pelting down on everyone, Brexit has arrived.  

Thepre referendum assurances contrast starkly to the reality in the cold light of day and remind me of Kipling’s Dead Statesman ‘I could not dig; I dared not rob; therefore I lied to please the mob; Now all my lies are proved untrue; And I must face the men I slew.

The immense implications of Brexit have been beset upon us with immediate effect in time for the summer as sterling fell like a duck diving for fish.  But that’s just the start, there’s the markets, the border with the South, Scotland, Gibraltar, Calais, the need to continue compliance with all EU regulations for a free market, companies relocating, re–issuing passports, British abroad, EU citizens in the UK, legislation to be scrapped and rewritten.  It’s an unmitigated mess with the leave campaign having no clue how to deal with it.  But there are other learnings and issues that must never be revisited or repeated from this fractious and distasteful EU referendum.

Ironic that this 6 month long campaign with its relentless, destructive and disrespectful rhetoric came in this what Pope Francis declared to be the ‘Year of Mercy’.  Most notably it was immigrants and ethnic groups who were being referred to as if they were herds of cattle with one of  the most distasteful depictions being Farage’s poster that was reminiscent of the thousands of innocent people who walked to their death in gas chambers during the Second World War.

Francis’ challenge was for society to consider how our concrete actions might help make mercy more relevant in our society today.  One of the many suggestions on how we can all show mercy be it in our working, family or social environments is to ensure we as a, country, nation or place welcome those that are different or in need.  Are we doing enough to make our society, schools, churches, and clubs inclusive?  Are we doing enough to empower marginalised voices?  And did we stop to consider what it felt like to be an immigrant or from an ethnic minority community when the collective ‘we’ were talking about Brexit and the many inappropriate and offensive references to our fellow man?  Or did our political leaders consider the disrespect, disdain and indeed hate that was being built up on the back of their thoughtless and careless comments across a range of media studios.  Mercy, some of them don’t know the meaning of the word.

Mercy was Jo Cox’s middle name, she was a heroine of multiculturism. A women who had inclusivity at the top of her political agenda and had the potential to be the sort of leader that is so sorely lacking in the political environment.  What a crying shame she only came to national prominence following her death.   Jo was working on a report on anti–muslim attacks before her death with the islamophobia watchdog Tell Mama, which said it cooperated with the Labour MP on the report which concluded that violence against Muslims rose by 80% in 2015, particularly against women.  She was planning to address parliament on the issue later this month.  Nobody will convince me that the prolonged plans and issues around the then proposed EU referendum was not a factor in the rise of these hate crimes and as the toxic cancer of hate exponentially rose during the campaign Jo Cox was only too aware of the continued erosion that it was having on the potential for a more cohesive, inclusive and respectful society.

Her views were articulated by her husband Brendan after her death, “I think she was very worried that the language was coarsening, that people were being driven to take more extreme positions, that people didn’t work with each other as individuals and on issues, it was all much too tribal and unthinking.”

Disrespect doesn’t operate in societal isolation it permeates and infiltrates across all areas of our lives and the business community and workplace is no different.  Even something like the Euro’s, something so positive which provides so much fun and enjoyment can create division as opposed to togetherness if the workplace culture so allows.  A report back in 2011 by a leading international communications firm highlighted that incivility in the workplace was on the rise with 43% having had personal experience of it and 38% believing that the workplace is becoming increasingly uncivil and disrespectful. Many place the blame at the feet of workplace leadership.  The outstanding question is has this improved and if you consider wider society the answer must be no.  So the business community cannot stand idly by and criticise our political leaders when disrespect is much too ubiquitous in the workplace.

The basis of any successful relationship or partnership is built upon mutual respect and building a culture of respect begins with respect, and in the business environment this must begin with business leaders. There is an opportunity for the business community to fill the leadership vacuum left by our political leaders, to reject society’s failure to challenge intolerance and prejudice which has been so prevalent during the EU referendum and ensure that the workplace is one that fosters and embraces diversity. Afterall as Roy. E Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier”.