Unlocking talent: the Employers Stammering Network
BSA Chief Executive Norbert Lieckfeldt introduces the new initiative to create networks of people who stammer within organisations.
May 9th will see the preliminary launch of BSA's new Employers Stammering Network with a reception in the House of Commons hosted by BSA patron, Ed Balls MP. The original idea was conceived by Iain Wilkie, a Senior Partner at accountancy firm Ernst & Young. Iain has struggled with a stammer in his career but succeeded at Ernst & Young through being open about his stammer. However, he found that there are fewer people working there who stammer than he expected. This was a concern - Iain knew that, stammer or no stammer, he is a talented and capable employee, and what worried him was the thought that the other talented and capable people who stammer might have gone to work for the competition! Whilst he received encouragement on a personal level, Iain found that no employers anywhere seemed to recognising stammering as a work-place issue even though he knew that it was.
(L-R) Ed Balls MP, Rob Barrett, Norbert Lieckfeldt and Iain Wilkie
So the idea was born - a network of major employers who sign up and pay an annual fee to BSA. In return they'll receive information, support and advice for HR Departments and line managers on how to recruit and support people who stammer. It will be a significant exercise in breaking down prejudice and barriers to employment and advancement. We will do presentations and offer support in individual cases where employees who stammer may find certain tasks more difficult, focusing on solutions that will enable them to achieve their full potential.
It will also address many of the concerns that people who stammer have at work, such as those identified a recent employee survey by BSA. For example, four out of five respondents said they'd welcome it if employers knew more about stammering. A large percentage often hold back what they consider to be good ideas and contributions because of their stammer. Almost 80% would like to be part of an extended network of people who stammer across companies and other employers.
This is a unique undertaking - I've not heard of anything like it before. It'll enable companies to focus on what makes for good communication, both internally and in recruitment. As a result of preliminary work, we have found many useful contacts - we never knew, for example, a support network for people who stammer existed in the Metropolitan Police!
This work will enable employers to support their staff better and foster greater loyalty which will help them to retain good employees. Plus, it will enable employers to draw on the undoubted talents and skills of people who stammer, who otherwise might decide to go and work for the competition.
The House of Commons reception follows on from a study day at the City Lit in London on Stammering Therapy from the Inside - New Perspectives on Working with Young People and Adults, and the launch of the book of the same name edited by the City Lit speech therapy team. Ed Balls will officially launch the book at City Lit - it will be a great day for raising awareness of stammering!
More on the Employers stammering network...
From the Spring 2013 issue of 'Speaking Out', page 17
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