Workplace dilemmas: I feel marginalised for my views about Brexit

Each month, our agony uncle responds to your concerns. This time: how to cope when you’re at odds with your colleagues over politics

Dear Tim,

I think everyone would agree that the current political situation in the UK is toxic. Tune in to the Today programme and sooner or later it will descend into a shouting match between Leavers and Remainers.

    ...I feel as if people with my views are being criticised and sidelined.  

I know I’m not alone in feeling disgusted at the way our parliamentarians have behaved in recent weeks. It is my firm belief that they have frustrated the will of the people, who voted clearly in favour of leaving the European Union more than three years ago. I believe the time for negotiation is passed, and we must get on with the business of exiting.

I appreciate that not everyone shares my views. I’m always careful about articulating them too stridently, as Brexit is one of the most divisive subjects I’ve encountered in my lifetime.

But I’ve noticed something about where I work, and it’s really beginning to get me down. I feel as if I’m the only one who isn’t in favour of Remain, which means I’m doubly reluctant to express my opinions.

To be honest, it’s more than that. The people I work with are very much of the opinion that anyone who voted to leave the EU is an idiot or a racist – or both. They think that Boris Johnson is the worst prime minister ever and are extremely vocal in dismissing his strategy to deliver Brexit by the end of October.

By implication, I feel as if people with my views are being criticised and sidelined. Even when I gently suggest that there is an alternative view on the topic, my contribution is closed down with a roll of the eyes and a cutting phrase about being bigoted or selfish because I’m unconcerned about the impact of leaving the EU on the poorest members of society.

But here’s the thing. I voted to leave because I thought it would make things better for everyone in the UK. I’m not opposed to immigration and I don’t have any jingoistic notions that Brexit will restore the empire. I just feel that it’s the right thing to do, especially since it was settled upon democratically by a referendum. And I’m fed up with being made to feel silly, thoughtless or uncaring because of views that I’ve reached after careful consideration and a lot of research.

Tim says:

You’re right, we are in the midst of one of the most divided periods of the modern political age. In his book How Democracy Ends, the political scientist David Runciman describes our current situation as a blip, much like those experienced by all the great democracies in the passage of time.

    ...the political scientist David Runciman describes our current situation as a blip, much like those experienced by all the great democracies in the passage of time.  

But blip or not, that doesn’t stop political discourse having a rather unsavoury character just now. We might say that this is a healthy sign of the freedoms we are privileged to take for granted in the western world: the freedom to express our views in an honest way, without fear of sanction or recrimination.

From what you’re saying, you don’t feel as if you can participate in this freedom to the same extent as your colleagues. This is always a danger of a liberal political worldview: it can quickly become surprisingly conservative in its unwillingness to countenance views that it doesn’t find acceptable.

Witness the furore in 2009 about BNP leader Nick Griffin being invited to speak on the BBC’s Question Time. The issue here was that people committed to the freedom of speech didn’t extend that commitment as far as someone whose views they found abhorrent.

Compared to Mr Griffin, your views are by no means extreme. But in a workplace context where a more pro-European mindset dominates, you’re clearly being made to feel as if your ideas are unacceptable. That’s simply not justified: you’re entitled to your opinions, and should feel as if you have the freedom to voice them, and not be marginalised for holding them.

My advice would be to have a chat with your line manager about how you’re feeling. They may be able to issue a general reminder to colleagues that it pays to be sensitive when expressing views about controversial political topics. This shouldn’t be personalised, but just a gentle nudge to remember that not everyone will see the world as they do.

Alternatively, you could try expressing your views with more confidence. From what you’ve said, you have resisted speaking too openly about your take on this subject, through fear of being ostracised. But you may find that you’re not alone, that others around you feel the same and are just waiting for someone to express their opinion. According to a ComRes poll, 54 per cent of people believe the 2016 referendum result should be honoured – putting you firmly in the majority.

That’s small comfort if you feel isolated in your working environment, of course. But either way, it pays to have confidence that your opinion is as deserving of expression as those of your colleagues. And the most important thing of all is to keep dialogue, discussion and healthy disagreement alive.

If not, as you rightly point out, all we’re left with is a shouting match.

Published: 12 September 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Workplace dilemmas: I think my colleague has fallen for me

You may also enjoy: How to create your company’s environmental strategy

Jobs currently available

New job
QA Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: Discussed on application
Location: Saffron Walden
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910873
About the role

Our client is seeking an experienced Quality Assurance Manager to join them on a permanent, full-time basis. This opportunity offers stability, longevity and professional development.

Reporting directly to the MD, the Quality Assurance Manager will be responsible for:

  • Maintaining and improving the Company's Quality Management System and ensure internal compliance
  • Working with all departments to ensure their procedures are being followed and to improve their internal and cross-functional processes and procedures
  • Ensure that the quality of current and newly introduced products is compliant and traceable
  • Coordinate Quality activities with all over departments
  • Develop and improve quality relationships with all customers of the Company
  • Responsible for all Quality activities and personnel in the Quality Department for the Company
  • Provide strong leadership in the day-to-day operations of the Quality department and mentor the members of the team
  • Establish performance goals for all departmental employees and monitor performance on a continual basis
  • Oversee all hiring, appraisal, training and discipline of Quality personnel
  • Member of the Company's Management team
  • Produce the Quality element of the company's annual Budget
  • Formulate the departmental strategy aligned to the overall Company strategy
  • Embed a Continuous Improvement culture within the Quality Dept and contribute to the Continuous Improvement programme across the site

Requirements:

  • HND or equivalent qualification in Engineering or a related technical field required
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Manufacturing environment
  • Ability to articulate (verbally and in writing), defend and negotiate Quality expectations with internal and external customers at all levels of management
  • Good interpersonal skills with the ability to guide and educate/train at all levels
Read more
New job
Customer Service Administrator
Sector: Customer Service
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Halstead
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910871
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting a well-regarded organisation at the forefront of its sector that is looking to add a Customer Service Administrator to its team, due to growth – based on the outskirts of Halstead.

The main purpose of the role is to service current and prospective customers by receiving and processing orders, enquiries and general information in a timely and courteous manner.

Key tasks include:

  • Answering incoming calls, giving product information, lead times, dealing with general enquiries and queries, redirecting calls to relevant departments
  • Raising and inputting orders and proforma invoices
  • Raising quotations
  • Amending orders, as required
  • Scanning documentation
  • Liaising with Areas Sales Managers and responding to their requests
  • Arranging couriers and/or carriers as required
  • Any general office associated duties

Key requirements for the role:

  • Excellent computer skills
  • Good eye for detail
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • Courteous

Previous experience requirements:

  • Previous Customer Service Administrative experience gained within an office environment
  • Excellent telephone manner with the ability to communicate at all levels
  • High level of attention to detail and accuracy
  • Good working knowledge of Microsoft Office and experience of in-house systems
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritise own workload
  • Exceptional communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Understanding of the importance of data protection and adherence to the process

Offering free parking and an excellent working environment, this is a great opportunity to join a growing team.

Working Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week - offering a competitive salary and company benefits.

Read more
New job
Production Operative
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £8.91 per hour
Location: Needham Market
Role: Full Time
Contract: Temporary
Job ref: 910811
About the role

Want to work in a safe, clean environment?
And have the possibility of ongoing work?

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Temporary Production Operative to be based in Needham Market.

Duties include:

  • Ensure all final and completed products are packed to the customer specifications                               
  • Informing Line Leaders of defects found in the products
  • Keep machines supplied with packing materials and labels
  • Assist the Line Leaders with handovers and changeovers
  • Responsible for general cleanliness of the production area and removal of production and general waste
  • Check products on the line for quality and defects
  • Basic production duties carried out in a fast-paced environment

Working hours:

8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday

Read more
New job
Logistics Coordinator
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £24,000 per annum
Location: Ipswich
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910869
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting, a well-regarded, family-run business on the outskirts of Ipswich.

You will be responsible for assisting with the loads out operation of the business by ensuring that the process from collection to arrival at the final destination is fully supported by the relevant goods in haulage documentation.

You will also be supporting the sales function of the business by dealing with customer queries in terms of both sales and operations as well as assisting with various ad-hoc marketing campaigns. This is a very varied role and requires flexibility, commitment and a substantial desire to learn and grow with the flourishing business.

Duties will include:

  • Process orders and oversees the order to completion of paperwork
  • Facilitate the shipping of products from one destination to another
  • Arrange transportation with outside hauliers
  • Receive paperwork from the Weighbridge department and check and complete the paperwork within the allocated time allowed
  • Answer calls and emails relating to customer queries and log them on the CRM system and resolve any outstanding issues raised
  • Keep CRM records up-to-date
  • Work with the sales and operations team to ensure that high customer service levels are achieved and delivered to all customers you are responsible for at all times

Skills required:

  • Good Microsoft skills including Word, Outlook & Excel
  • Ability to work proactively on an independent basis as well as be a good team player
  • You will have the interpersonal skills necessary to develop and sustain effective relationships with team members of other departments and with all customers
  • Good attention to detail and analytical skills
Read more
Legal Secretary (Part-Time)
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: Up to £11.00 per hour
Location: Witham
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 910868
About the role

Just Recruitment is delighted to be supporting an established business, based in Witham looking to add a highly-skilled secretary to their long-standing team.

The role will involve, audio typing, preparing documents, answering the phone, dealing with enquiries and assisting colleagues as well as directing queries as needed.

Key responsibilities to include:

  • Audio typing – dictation
  • Preparing letters and drafting documents
  • Handling diaries and booking appointments
  • Answering the phone and dealing with queries
  • General secretarial and office-based duties

As well as having experience in a secretarial position, you will have audio typing experience and excellent typing skills. The role requires you to have a good level of IT literacy, experience of Word (essential) and Excel would be useful. You will take pride in your work and have a caring and sympathetic nature.

Please note this role is part-time.

This is a great opportunity, offering a good pay rate and company benefits.

Read more