'Our ability to recruit outstanding linguists, support and tech staff from the EU has been a significant contributory factor in the growth of Conversis.'
I made a commitment to myself many years ago that I wouldn’t mix business and politics. But the events of June 23rd have potentially such an impact on our business and our people that I am going to make an exception. This decision touches every one of our stakeholders and, in particular our staff. Our ability to recruit outstanding linguists, support and tech staff from the EU has been a significant contributory factor in the growth of Conversis and that being more difficult for us in years to come is a real worry. Of more immediate concern is the natural concerns of our colleagues already in the UK.
I watched the events of 23rd and 24th June unfold with a sinking heart and I confess am still feeling very disillusioned today. In my view, the economic arguments on their own were overwhelmingly in favour of Remain, let alone the cultural, social and trade considerations. But more than anything my disappointment comes from the fact that a main thrust of the leave campaign was based on a strategy of demonising immigrant populations. The world cannot and should not deny the benefits of multiculturalism, in fact if you look at the greatest cities of the world – New York, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Paris, Singapore, San Francisco etc. – they are driven by a multicultural ecosystem.
Forget for a moment that a Brexit will not in real terms help us ‘control’ immigration, the whole narrative was manufactured by opportunistic politicians tapping in to the latent most disturbing fears of large numbers of the British public. I fully accept that those wishing to debate immigration are not necessarily racist, but so much of the narrative that surrounded that part of the debate was insensitive at best. The EU isn’t perfect, but to assume the other 27 members are quite relaxed about its problems and don’t want to force change as well is ludicrous. We should be working together on the inside to achieve this.
We seem to have suddenly developed a mistrust of ‘experts’ in the UK. Michael Gove said during the campaign “people in this country have had enough of experts’. I’d be interested in who he thinks we should turn to instead for advice on complicated matters, amateurs? Its all part of a disturbing trend to dumb down political discourse. Another jingoistic phrase that got a lot of air time during the campaign was ‘we want our country back’. I have no idea what that means, from whom exactly? All in all, the level of debate was extremely poor and at odds with the seriousness of the decision.
Personally I don’t think the full economic consequences of the decision will be apparent immediately, but the implications will be felt for many years to come. However, I do believe that the most severe and more immediate repercussions will be of a social nature and are already at risk of an increasingly divided country. The nature of the debate and scaremongering from politicians on both sides bears a lot of the responsibility for this. We have already seen an increase in racist incidents in the UK with perpetrators seemingly emboldened by the Brexit decision and the narrative that surrounded it. We can only hope this is a temporary spike.
I want to reassure all of our people. Conversis is an international business and Conversis will remain an international business. Culturally, geographically and commercially we consider ourselves part of the European family. Whatever hurdles are put in our way to make life difficult to maintain our multinational workforce will be overcome. The number of different nationalities we employ is the very essence of who we are. On a personal level my life has been enriched by having the privilege of working with such a wide cross section of nationalities.
I am a committed European, and consequently feeling sad, but for us it has to be and will be business as usual. Over the coming weeks events will unfold and we will assess how they affect the economy and our business. The Brexit results were a disappointment, but I remain hugely confident in the future of Conversis. There will be threats and opportunities falling out of this decision and we stand by to mitigate the threats and take advantage of the opportunities. We have every reason to be very confident.
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