50 Million Voices is an ambitious global initiative seeking to transform the world of work for people who stutter – and for employers and society too

Why 50 Million Voices

Globally, 50 million people of employable age stutter. This is a huge pool of under-utilised talent.

Across the world, people who stutter frequently experience negative bias and prejudice. Consequently, we often miss out on job and career opportunities while employers miss out on our talents, strengths and experience.

Launched in 2019, our leaders are working together to change this. We come from 15 countries and 6 continents: Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, Spain, UK and USA.

Governance

50 Million Voices is registered charity number 1189541 with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Our trustees are:

Iain Wilkie

Iain is the founder and chair of 50 Million Voices and a person who stutters. He is an executive coach for quiet leaders and is a trustee of the Business Disability Forum. Previously, Iain was a senior partner at EY, including as a member of the UK & Ireland leadership team and the senior sponsor for Ability EY, the firm’s network for colleagues with disabilities.

Helen Carpenter

Helen is a linguist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was awarded an MBE in 2008 after leading a national programme connecting public libraries and refugees. She previously worked at the British Stammering Association (Stamma), co-ordinating the Employers Stammering Network for three years, a learning journey for someone with no previous connection with stuttering.

Norbert Lieckfeldt.

Norbert, himself a person who stutters, works in governance for the National Health Service and is a founding steering group member of the NHS Stammering Network. He previously served for nearly twenty years as Chief Executive of the British Stammering Association (Stamma), the UK’s national charity for adults and children who stammer.

Our vision and beliefs

“We aim to create a world where everyone who stutters can enjoy a fulfilling working life, and where more organisations benefit from the talents and strengths of people who stutter.”

We regard stuttering as simply a different way of speaking.

We know that the experience of having a stutter often results in the development of strengths in areas such as listening, empathy, resilience and creativity. These are all skills that increasingly give employers an edge in the rapidly changing workplace.

Creating stuttering friendly cultures

Please watch our short introductory video:

We all thrive when we feel we belong. In stuttering friendly cultures our stuttering voices are heard and the whole team benefits.

“The main reason I joined my new employer is because they have a stuttering employee network. The work is similar to my old firm, but the culture is different and I’m thriving now.”

Activities supporting employers

Increasing numbers of employers are including our stuttering related activities in their diversity & inclusion and talent acquisition programmes. They’re often surprised how easy this is and are delighted by the financial payback.

Examples include practice interview days, best-practice recruitment workshops, mentoring and helping to create networks for employees who stammer.

We’d be delighted to listen to your diversity & inclusion and talent acquisition goals and explore how we might help you achieve them.

Practice interview events

Interviews are particularly stressful for people who stutter due to the difficulty in communicating fluently in time-pressured situations, where so much can hang on the outcome. This is compounded by most interviewers having little experience of candidates who stutter or of getting the best from them.

Practice interview pilot event – October 2020

Our pilot virtual practice interview event in October 2020 included 75 people from 8 countries, with a mix of 49 who stutter and 26 allies who don’t stutter. It was a great success. Confidential feedback indicated that 100% of interviewees and interviewers found it extremely (84%) or very valuable (16%).

Please watch these very short videos made by some of our participants who share how they found the experience and the difference it’s made:

Will Earthy – Interviewee experience – Why I took part

Will Earthy – Interviewee experience – How I benefitted

Chris Gemmell – Interviewer experience – From a leader who stutters

Sally Bibb- Interviewer experience – From an ally who doesn’t stutter

Practice interviews April 2021

After the success of the pilot, in April 2021 we organised a larger event with 35% more participants and a wider geographic reach.

102 people from 9 countries were involved: Canada, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, South Africa, UK and USA – and 4 continents: Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

94% of participants rated the value of the event as ‘extremely valuable’ (65%) or ‘very valuable’ (29%).  6% rated the event as ‘valuable’.

98% of participants would either ‘definitely’ (91%) or ‘probably’ (6%) recommend the event to others. 2% ‘possibly’ would.

Supported by TSB Bank, we gave 69 free confidential one-to-one virtual interviews with feedback to:

45 people who stutter as interviewees (18 yrs & over)
19 people who stutter as interviewers (25 yrs & over)
32 people who don’t stutter as interviewers (25 years & over)

The event  included:

90 minute educational briefing on stuttering at work
60 minute practice interviews including time for individual feedback
60 minute group feedback and sharing session

Practice interviews June 2021

We ran our first French-speaking event which included 30 people – 15 interviewees who stutter and 15 allies as interviewers who don’t stutter. Initial feedback has been very positive and we’re now awaiting the results of our formal feedback exercise.

“I was left overwhelmed at the bravery of the individual I met. He chose his words very carefully and each one had a power that is lost when too many words are used”
– Interviewer, April 2021
“I have nothing but great feedback. It’s so inspiring to be aware of stammerers in my desired line of work, to have such talented people on board and to be able to communicate with them is fantastic.”
– Interviewee, Not in employment, October 2020. Subsequently accepted a job offer from his practice interviewer’s employer.

Future events

Subject to funding, we’re planning more events, including in Spanish.

There are 50 Million reasons to take part!

Donate

We receive no grant or government funding and would be very grateful if you’d like to donate to support our work.

Please donate here :


or contact Iain Wilkie our Chair: chair@50millionvoices.org

UK Charity registration number : 1189541

Find out more

Please click here to contact us for information or enquiries

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