A Voice For Silent Movies

This December my company is asking employees to share stories on their “Why for DEI” — why Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is important to them.

I lead a privileged life, with a great job in a fantastic company, but for me personally, DEI in my company has been showcased by the positive disregard for my stammer.

I’ve always had a stammer and have never been able to talk “normally”. Ordering drive-thru is always an interesting experience, sometimes saying my name to the barista in Starbucks is a challenge, joining conversations with others can be tricky as the words sometimes just don’t come out on time for me to jump in, and the (almost) two years working at home has meant endless video calls which are a special type of hell for some folks with stammers. In person you may not even notice my stammer as I’ve learned over the years how to work around it, and some of my colleagues probably never realised — but there’s something about phone & video calls that just make it worse.

This hasn’t ever stopped me doing anything I’ve wanted to do — instead I’ve always purposely put myself in uncomfortable positions, like joining my school’s debating team, getting numerous public-facing jobs during college (including dressing up in a Robin Hood costume for a summer working in Universal Studios Themepark Hollywood!), teaching an app-development course in a Dublin university, and giving countless technology presentations and talks throughout my career.

My company also doesn’t care — repeatedly asking me to present at different events and occasions, internal and external, all in the complete knowledge that I’m not the smoothest talker in the box. In January I’ll be featuring in a recruitment video, for which I spent an awesome day earlier in the year shooting with a professional video-crew. I double checked with the comms team beforehand “you know it may be an absolute s***show?” and I was told not to worry about it.

It’s not a major thing compared to the biases, lack of opportunties, stigma, racism, sexism, discrimination and more that so many others go through in life and their careers, but for me it’s still great to mention I work somewhere that has never even batted an eye at my different way of talking; so that’s my Why for DEI.

If you’d like to share your Why for DEI, please do in the comments below!

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Andy O'Sullivan

Andy O'Sullivan

Creator of Boxapopa, the iOS game for young kids with zero ads, just fun! https://apps.apple.com/ie/app/boxapopa/id1550536188