Nihat Arkan, global CEO of Leeds-based language translation, interpretation and localisation specialist thebigword, is investing thousands to ensure his non-British staff can stay in the UK post-Brexit.
What services does thebigword offer?
We offer several different language-services. We provide translation and outsourcing services in 256 languages. We are a global company based in Leeds, but with offices also in Europe, Asia and North America.
When did you first realise that Brexit was going to have an impact on thebigword?
We have around 600 direct employees and of these 12 to 15% are not UK citizens. And then we have a vast freelance linguist network and around 35 to 40% of these people are not UK citizens. Over the last few months, about 5% of our UK-based staff have left, specifically as a result of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. So to encourage our other non-British staff to stay with us we have created a very specific programme for them. We will be paying all the expenses required for them to be able to stay here and we have also established a department specifically to help them with the application process.
This has been a big investment for us and it’s coming out of our profits, but we agreed with our shareholders and our management that it was something we needed to do to mitigate the risks of Brexit.
And to protect our freelance linguist network, which is quite substantial, we are now working with our local MP and various associations like the Association of Translation Companies to make sure that the linguist job is protected within the Brexit decision. That would allow our linguist network to travel freely without a visa and other time and cost implications. So we are working to protect our whole family!
Aside from the staffing issues, are their any other changes you are making to your business to prepare for Brexit?
We have set aside a substantial amount to hedge against currency fluctuations because we pay many of our non-UK-based freelancers in their own currency and we also use many non-UK-based technology companies who need paying in US dollars, Japanese Yen and Euros. So the pound going down has a very negative impact on our business and it is something we have to protect against.