In the wake of awful terror attacks in Brussels this week, long-standing IABC board member Jane Mitchell shares, in our latest Board Blog, her reflections on the role communicators can, and must, play in encouraging a values-driven culture.
I am sitting in a coffee shop in Prague, as an English woman, born in Ireland, the day after the so-called islamic state have destroyed the lives of many of our fellow Europeans in Brussels. These acts that will have affected many of you in recent years, and sitting where I am, remind me so acutely of the impact of another regime of fear that worked relentlessly to destroy those that it felt threatened their own existence.
In this city that lost almost a million of its residents during the second world war, it’s a stark reminder of what is terrible and great about our world. The vestiges of fear, resentment, persecution and murder remain as memorials here, lest we forget. But they also encourage us to remember that resilience, strength, and a love of humanity and each other overcomes hatred and fanaticism to build strong and empathic communities of belonging.
The parallels with our IABC EMENA community are not lost on me, and I’m sure won’t be on any of us.
I have been based in London for all of my adult life; I started working there at a time when the IRA worked very hard to remind us of their grim existence, sometimes on a weekly basis. The threat was ever-present, but it didn’t persuade us into violence or fighting fear with fear. We dug in and it reinforced our own values and our own communities; work and personal were less distinct, we were all in it together and we were stronger for it.
The premise of what we all have in IABC should also make us just as strong – we are a powerful community of human beings with wonderfully different experiences, backgrounds, fears, hopes and loves. The icing on that particular exotic gateaux of course, and applicable to us all, is that we are all communicators. We can all make a significant difference in helping each other, our clients and those around us to share stories that continue to build strong communities.
We can all find ways of communicating that help our organisations be more conscious of the significant responsibility that they have in encouraging positive cultures to flourish. We have a responsibility to guide them to recognise that simply ‘talking’ a good game on being committed to a values-driven culture means diddlysquat without the courage to stand up for it. In my mind, that contribution will go some way now and in the future to ensuring that tolerance, understanding, care and courage remain the foundations of our world.
About Jane Mitchell
Jane runs her own company, JL&M Ltd, guiding global clients around the intricacies of rolling out ethics programmes; from the embedding of appropriate values and behaviours through leadership programmes to developing effective rollouts of Codes of Conduct, and joining the dots in between! Jane is also a non-executive director of UK-based communications agency Karian & Box, specialising in employee engagement measurement and strategies. Jane is a former UK Chapter President, Chair of the IABC Global Research Committee, and has just stepped down from the IABC International Executive Board.
Follow Jane on Twitter: @JMitchComms