Stammering is a complex condition that impacts nearly 8% of the population across the world. It is estimated that there are 4,000 civil servants who stammer. Stammering is recognised as a disability under the Equality Act.
While there is no link with intellectual capacity or intelligence, many people who stammer experience discrimination or misunderstanding of their condition at work. Despite efforts by employers to encourage bringing ‘your whole self to work’ and diversity and inclusion initiatives, stammering is a significant barrier at work where a premium is put on an outdated understanding of communicating, influencing and performing.
Having a stammer can in fact make you a more impactful communicator but many employers dismiss those who stammer as lacking polish, confidence or gravitas. Day-to-day tasks and even the recruitment processes – such as initial telephone interviews - can present real barriers to those who stammer.
What causes stammering?
The cause of stammering is neurological but environmental and emotional factors can have an influence. Stammering can be audible or hidden, but both types can have an enormous effect on the individual’s personal and professional life. Most people develop stammering in early childhood as they learn to speak. However, some people develop a stammer in later life through a brain injury such as a stroke.
What support does the Civil Service offer?
The Civil Service is a member of the British Stammering Association’s dedicated network to support those in get in, get on and thrive in work. We have access to specific resources for line managers, one-to-one coaching, a free helpline and online community of people who stammer in the workplace across the UK.
We have a website and several social media channels run by civil servants to challenge perceptions and provide support for colleagues who stammer, regardless of grade, department or length of service. You can join the conversation through the private Facebook group, Slack channel, Twitter or contact us to learn more about events and newsletter for those who don’t want to access social media.
How do I access support?
If you’d like to join or understand how the Civil Service Stammering Network can support you or a colleague, contact the Co-Chairs Betony Kelly, (Betony.Kelly@gmail.com) or Kirstie Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find a department ambassador near you.