The BEIS 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!). An excellent blog (also from BEIS employee) sought to create a Civil Service Stammering Network and raise awareness of it.
In my career, I had never had contact with stammering organisations or come across colleagues who stammered. In retrospect, I think that 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.
For me being ‘Inclusive’ means “It’s OK to stammer in BEIS”
My stammer is a covert one; this means you may not even notice I do 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.
Emailing the directorate certainly got my “fight or flight” adrenalin response flowing. But the response to my email, which included a link to the blog and the British Stammering Association’s tips on recruiting people with a stammer, 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 do so, 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, but 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 BEIS. Hopefully, we will have something ready for the next International Stammering Awareness day (22nd October).
I am also offering an open invitation to others who identify with stammering to share more of themselves in the workplace. There is a Civil Service Stammering Network that people can join to learn more.