Paul Barrett from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, part of our network of ambassadors, explains what it means to ‘bring his whole self to work’ as someone who stammers.
The department values were launched recently, promoting inclusiveness and inviting everyone to “bring their whole selves to work”. But what might this mean?
For me it started last October. A Civil Service wide blog on International Stammering Awareness Day caught my eye. I have a stammer but I had never heard of this day (although I knew about International Doughnut Day!). The excellent blog by Betony Kelly sought to create a Civil Service Stammering Network and raise awareness of stammering.
In my career I had never had contact with stammering organisations or come across colleagues who stammered. In retrospect I think Betony’s blog was my invitation. Knowing there were others who stammered at work and that a group was being formed filled me with enthusiasm. It was all the permission I needed to bring more of myself to work.
My stammer is a covert one; this means you may not even notice I stammer because I manage it. So I took that first step, maybe the hardest for me, but the most important; I started sharing that I had a stammer. I shared with my line manager, I shared with my Directorate and now I am sharing with you.
E-mailing the Directorate certainly got my “fight or flight” adrenalin response flowing. But the response to my e-mail, which included a link to Betony’s blog and the British Stammering Association’s tips on recruiting people with stammers, was really positive and supportive. So I am carrying on, waving this flag and owning my stammer.
Gone (well, almost) are the days of worrying whether I will stammer when I present to a group or chair a meeting. Now I confidently open with “I have a stammer” and tell others “it’s OK to stammer, and if I do today, I’m not going to worry about it”. I enjoy presenting and chairing and this openness allows me to bring more of myself to the moment and focus more on the message and outcome I am aiming for.
How can we bring more of ourselves to the workplace? What is it that might be stopping us? Some may have the confidence from the start; for others, they may want to see awareness and understanding in place or wait until there is safety in numbers.
I’m working with the Civil Service Stammering Network and the Employers Stammering Network to develop awareness raising materials which I can share with the Department. Hopefully we will have something ready for the next International Stammering Awareness day on 22 October 2017.
I am also offering an open invitation to others who identify with stammering to share more of yourself in the workplace. Join the Civil Service Stammering Network or contact me if you would like to be part of an informal BEIS Stammering Network. Or get in touch if you would like to speak in confidence first. I can also provide a contact in the Employers Stammering Network.
Have you had your invitation to bring your whole self to work? What does this mean for you?