BSA Chief Executive Norbert Lieckfeldt reports on the launch of awareness raising posters at leading accountancy firm EY, for International Stammering Awareness Day.
You may (or may not!) know that 22 October marked International Stammering Awareness Day.
We were in for a really wonderful morning, raising awareness at EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young).
Some members of our Employers Stammering Network (stammering.org/esn) have told us that having a poster that tells their staff about the Network would be very useful, for staff rooms, canteens, internal networks etc.
We were fortunate that we received the offer of some serious pro bono work from the offices of global advertising firm Ogilvy and Mather (and I am grateful to them and to our trustee Tim Fell who worked as the conduit between us and the design team).
After some serious thought and debate, we in the ESN decided to go for a poster template that would stress the many positive attributes that people who stammer bring to their workplace. The template was designed in such a way that each member of the ESN can adapt it to their own purpose, change the image to use some of their own staff (if they're brave enough!), use house colours and house font and change the attributes for each staff member and for each employer.
EY were the first to make use of this opportunity and they were magnificent, leading what they called the Reveal Revolution.
So, the Stammering Network team at EY, as well as our ESN Membership Manager Helen and myself spent the first two hours of October 22nd handing out these fliers as everyone entered the building. In addition, there were pop up banners along the entry route of the Foyer - the ultimate in 'outing yourself' at work!
How did all of this go down? One participant said -
'Yesterday was brilliant. I had an amazing response from people in my team and from people who I haven’t worked with in years but who took the time to reach out to me yesterday to admire our work. Wherever I went in the building yesterday, my picture seemed to follow me around! I’ve never had so many open conversations about my stammer at work and people were really interested to hear about it. I was explaining to one person about the concept of it being ok to stammer and she was just very matter of fact in her response - “of course it’s ok to stammer, why on earth would anyone think otherwise”. And she is quite right.'
Another said -
'It was an emotional day and I haven’t stopped buzzing ... there is so much power with the ‘Reveal Revolution’, and we’ve taken a great first step to unleashing it!'
For me it was quite an emotional morning - these were people taking what they may have perceived as a big risk, some of whom barely starting to be open about their stammer. I was bowled over by their courage, to be honest - and I really wanted to share this with you.
The hope is that there will be many other organisations who are willing to use this format to show that people who stammer bring many qualities that are attractive for an employer, qualities that people who stammer may well be more likely to bring than others. It helps to demonstrate convincingly that it is OK to stammer at work and that it is therefore safe to stop hiding.