BREXIT: Consequences of a Divided Society

June 5, 2016, Rob Flaherty

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Our Page Annual Conference in London could not be taking place at a more historic time and in a more consequential place. Literally. And our theme, "Clash of Empires: Building Bridges in a Divided World," is equally well-chosen.

The U.K.'s vote to depart from the EU, both for its significance and its unexpectedness, is the most resounding signal yet that there are real divisions in society that can and will manifest themselves in dramatic fashion. This vote, largely the result of a clash between the elite and middle classes, represents a massive underestimation of just how disaffected the U.K. public has become. Logical predictions about the potential negative consequences were well publicized but disregarded by those who've grown tired of feeling that their voices are ignored. Now Scotland revisits departure from the U.K., Northern Ireland may unify with Ireland, global markets are reeling, the U.K. leadership is in flux, and the rest of the EU is in peril of collapse. Elections indeed have consequences.

These developments aren't happening in isolation; there's a broader global context into which they fit, including questions of how a nationalistic undercurrent may impact elections in the United States.

While we could never have fully foreseen these circumstances, it turns out that our Annual Conference and its theme of building bridges in a divided world could not be more apt. We will be exploring the implications of Brexit with all of our speakers and discussing the social purpose of the enterprise with Unilever CEO Paul Polman, the refugee crisis with Kelly Clements, the U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, and the rise of nationalism with Martin Wolf of the Financial Times.

Please join us as we examine and discuss the changing dynamics of our increasingly divided world and how CCOs can succeed in their most foundational role: bridging divides between stakeholders and enterprises.

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