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Rose-tinted or blue? Whatever your post-referendum mood, seize this chance for IC to play a decisive role.

Since the Brexit referendum, we’ve all been thrown into the shoes of civil servants immediately after a general election. Personal politics and preferences aside, state employees have to accept the outcome and work with the new administration, whatever changes it may bring. And change has certainly come fast and furious since the momentous Brexit vote on June 23.
So how should IC practitioners respond? The general answer is, as we would in any change scenario, only more so. Brexit will have differing effects on organisations, although all will surely be affected in some way.  For some it will be business as usual for now, with detailed changes happening along the way. For others it will be transformational. So IC practitioners need to get to grips quickly with the detail of the new realities as they specifically affect us. We shouldn’t wait to be told, though, but should start roundtable discussions with the analysts and key decision makers – certainly the Executive, legal, regulatory, public affairs, strategy, planning and HR leads. What are their individual ‘takes’ on Brexit? If those discussions aren’t already happening, IC can prove its worth by facilitating the internal debate on Brexit.
Above all, we should ensure we’re listening carefully to employees around the organisation. They may be feeling uncertain or insecure, especially if the organization’s day-to-day business or growth strategy depends on all or any of the EU’s four freedoms: free access to the internal market (trade), free movement (people), capital and services. Assumptions may have to change concerning a wide range of business factors, from trading volumes, pricing and marketing to jobs and recruitment. We should find out what specific concerns employees have, tell them what we know already and acknowledge where we don’t have the answers.
IC can also play a role in fostering a climate of mutual acceptance in the workplace. Opinions divided sharply over the referendum vote, with passions stoked in a way that may have led to cases of antagonism, even if only at a low level. If anyone suffers as a consequence of thebehaviourof others, though, action should be swift and firm.  Bullying is not tolerated, whatever its pretext and whatever form it takes, and employees at risk of such treatment should be protected. IC can play a positive part in this to maintain a mood of inclusivity and civility in and around the workplace.
It’s likely that a reciprocal agreement will be reached concerning the right of British and other EU nationals to remain, work or study in each other’s countries, as part of the UK’s new settlement with the EU. In large part this will depend on political factors and decisions yet to be taken that are outside of the employers’ control. Until the terms of the deal are known, though, it will be a time of great uncertainty for everyone. In such times, though, the IC practitioner should be decisive and help provide clarity and a sense of unity. However you see Brexit, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate IC’s value.

Steve Doswell, IoIC Board Director

    Voice Online 1st December 2021 In the world we live in – a world that should be equal, but isn’t – being an ally is a moral imperative. This means going out of your way to actively support and advance marginalised individuals, communities or groups,....
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