Was I turned down for a job because I stammer?

Despite gaining a post-graduate degree, Baffour Agyei has found getting a job difficult. Here he expresses his frustration.

I've been asking myself questions. Questions I've never been able to get answers to. Why do I stammer? What caused it? Why am I the only person who stammers in my family? Why can't I speak as fluently as others do? Was it worth going through all the frustration, bullying and fear just to get degrees? Why am I not getting my dream job, even after attending interviews? Am I not qualified enough? Did the employers even understand me during the interview? Did I not give the interviewers the answers they needed? Did they choose someone else because I stammer?

I wasn't born with a stammer, but I've accepted that it's a part of me. I've been bullied, laughed at, embarrassed and frustrated but I'm still me and always will be, as long as I live. Growing up with a stammer from the 90s to date, I've always thought it would just go away. But it hasn't, not because there isn’t a cure but because it is part of me. It has been tough, but through it all I have been very strong and positive. I was never really fussed about the fact that I stammer, until I completed university for my first degree.

If it genuinely has a link to my stammer, then it is their loss because I know the value I would have added to the company if I was selected.

I thought having a degree would make things easier in regard to my future dreams, but that has not been the case, even after graduating as a Master of Business Administration and currently studying as a Doctor of Business Administration. The world has reached an age where equal employment laws protects everybody. These laws exist but every organisation has their own culture as well as their preference and requirements when they need to employ a candidate.

my worth

The reality is, that most organisations have 'good communication' as part of their job requirements for the majority of roles, which would seem to me to disqualify anyone with a speech impairment. After receiving an email that I have been unsuccessful in an interview, the first question that comes to mind is "was I unsuccessful because I stammer?".  Then I wonder whether it would be worth asking for feedback, since feedback is usually all the same: "You were unsuccessful because other candidates gave good answers and were more experienced than you." This usual response doesn't bring me down because if I know for sure that was the correct reason why I was unsuccessful, that’s fair enough. However, if it genuinely has a link to my stammer, then it is their loss because I know the value I would have added to the company if I was selected.

Is 'good communication' the same as fluency? Read our Job Hunting & Interviews page to see why it shouldn't put you off from applying for jobs.

I’ve found that every single individual that I have come across that has a stammer is very intelligent, determined and hardworking, which in effect means that any company who aren’t employing people solely for the fact that they stammer are losing a brilliant asset to their company.

Haven’t given up

Despite all of these frustrations and stress linked to job hunting, I haven't given up and will never give up because I know my worth. I know I can work. I know I can speak despite the breaks. I know that like everyone else, I have dreams and I won't stop chasing them until I am exactly where I want to be. 

I stammer and I am proud of it... it makes me different and motivates me to never give up.

I am me and I won't change who I am. I stammer and I am proud of it. I am proud of what I've achieved so far in life despite the bullying, embarrassment, frustration, anxiety and stress I've been through. There is no cure for it, neither can I change it, but I will forever accept it, because it makes me different and motivates me to never give up. Giving up would mean that I've been defeated by something that's part of me. But I am the 'boss' of myself so I will defeat it. I STAMMER AND I AM PROUD OF IT, BECAUSE IT MAKES ME DIFFERENT.

For guidance and tips, as well as information on why 'good communication skills' shouldn't put you off, see our Job Hunting & Interviews page.

Read about the law regarding discrimination and stammering on our The Law and Discrimination pages. For a more detailed look at how the Equality Act affects recruitment for people who stammer, visit stammeringlaw.org.uk

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