Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘stuttering at work

I had a wonderful opportunity to teach employees at a Fortune 500 company in NYC about stuttering last week. Three of us from the National Stuttering Association (NSA) spent about 90 minutes teaching basic stuttering 101 to employees who had volunteered to conduct mock interviews with people who stutter.

George, Chaya and myself (all three of us people who stutter) presented about what stuttering is, what it isn’t, whether there is a cause and cure, the variability of stuttering, common misconceptions, stuttering and effective communication and why people who stutter make good employees.

George had organized the “Mock Interview Day” at his workplace and had 15 people who stutter signed up to participate in interviews with company employees. The day included training the employees on interacting with people who stutter, 2 mock interviews for each candidate, feedback for the candidates, a panel discussion on differences and coming out in the workplace and networking.

The primary reason this day was so successful was that the employees were genuinely interested and receptive to learning about stuttering and for giving people who stutter the opportunity to sharpen their interview skills in a supportive environment.

Several employees that I spoke with mentioned how helpful it was to have learned some basic information about stuttering before doing the interviews. They found it very impactful to hear from people who stutter who were able to share facts and personal experience.

I was thrilled to have been part of the day. I love talking about stuttering to whoever will listen and we had a great audience on this day. The interview candidates felt it was a great day and they appreciated the time people took to make the event a success.

Over pizza at the end of the day, one woman who stutters approached me to talk . She was raving about how helpful the interviews were to her. She said she felt inspired to do something similar at her workplace to “give back.” We brainstormed a bit and left it that she was going to talk to someone in her HR department and I was going to follow up with her with an email early in the week. How inspiring is that? I would love to see future events held at companies all over. Such learning took place.

As I traveled home on the train, I reflected on how lucky I am that I “get to” talk to people who don’t stutter and teach them about the experience. Teaching people one person at a time creates a world that better understands stuttering. I am so happy to be a part of this.

 

Yet another good workshop I attended at the recent NSA conference in Dallas was on workplace advocacy for those who stutter. The workshop was facilitated by two individuals who are working on a committee with me to increase workplace advocacy efforts and reduce the stigma of stuttering in the workplace. Hope is a speech language pathologist and a candidate for a doctoral degree and John is a person who stutters who has had great success in the workplace.

The workshop focused on audience discussion about what ideas we as a community have for reducing stigma around stuttering in the workplace. People came up with a lot of good ideas that our NSA committee will try to implement over the coming months.

The workshop also provided some statistics on stuttering and labor market outcomes. Both men and women who stutter made at least $7,000 less in annual earnings than men and women who don’t stutter. For women who don’t stutter, some evidence indicates the gap in earnings may be as large as $18,000. Those are big differences and certainly warrant increased workplace advocacy efforts.

The most common suggestion people made in the workshop was around networking. People who stutter believe that our networks will help us find jobs and that is true. Everyone, stutterer or not, should talk to people they know in the field, get references and recommendations and use networks such as LinkedIn to help with the job search process.

But I think there is more that needs to be done around workplace advocacy for stuttering. My vision is that employers understand stuttering and teach employees about stuttering just as they do about other differences in diversity and inclusion training. My hope is that the NSA will become a resource and support network for employers, not just for employees that stutter. More to come on that as our committee continues to expand our vision and sink our teeth into tangible outcomes for advocacy.

What are your thoughts on workplace advocacy for people who stutter? Do you think employers will find it useful to receive guidance and training from the NSA? How do you think we should go about doing that?

 


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.