Business in the Community's response to leave result

The UK is waking up to a world that looks fundamentally different, as we digest the implications of yesterday’s historic EU Referendum Leave vote. As commentators chew over the implication of the outcome, the truth is - no one quite knows what comes next and we all face a significant period of uncertainty in the coming months as we adjust to the reality of life outside of the EU.

It is no secret that many in the business community publically backed the Remain campaign. However, now that the decision to leave has been made, it is more important than ever that business demonstrates its strength and ability to take action which drives our economy forward, even as we adjust to the challenges and change to come.

Business in the Community works with business of all sizes committed to having a positive impact on people and planet. Our members have an outlook, reach and footprint across Europe and beyond.  In the wake of our exit from the European Union, business has a real opportunity to demonstrate that it can continue to work collaboratively to tackle shared global challenges.

We urge businesses to keep their commitments to be responsible, not because EU legislation compels them to, but because responsible business behaviour is the only way to ensure a fairer society and more sustainable future. The UK now has a real opportunity to innovate, create solutions and show bold leadership on issues of sustainability and business has an opportunity to make a bigger difference.  At the same time, government has a responsibility to create the legislative and policy environment that enables the UK to be a prosperous, growing economy, renowned as a world leader in responsible business practice.

It is also important that we take the necessary time to reflect on the pressing and urgent challenges facing the UK which the referendum debate unearthed - questions around employment, social inclusion and inequality to name a few. There was a prevailing sense throughout the campaign of the divide between the interests of big business and the interests of the society it serves.

In this post referendum world, business must be part of building bridges and addressing this divide collaboratively, in order to create social cohesion and unity in our communities and access to employment to ensure that everyone can be part of the UK’s economic and social success. There’s never been a more crucial time for business to demonstrate that it is part of the solution to create a fairer society and more sustainable future, and to show that the interest of business and the prosperity of society are genuinely interdependent.

With the referendum behind us, BITC will do more to encourage business to take action to create cohesion in our communities, heal the divides and build trust and understanding. There is also a real urgency now to raise the profile of what business does do,  better communicate that business can be a force for good and create the long term partnerships that can help address some of the concerns that have been at the centre of much of the debate.