Despite our best efforts to stay clear from accent discrimination, there is a stigma attached to some regional accents – and unfortunately, research suggests that employers are allowing the accent of an applicant to influence their decision to hire or not. But what does that mean for you? DCS Multiserve, a facilities management company have compiled the following research.
How employable are you?
According to research by a law firm in Peninsula, a huge eight in 10 employers have admitted to letting an applicant’s accent influence their decision to recruit them. Clearly, a strong accent can affect how employable you are as a person – and even how you are treated in the workplace.
For example, a teacher from Cumbria was advised to “sound less Cumbrian” by employers, according to a Guardian report. The same report also noted that a school in the West Midlands recently banned pupils from speaking regional slang to improve their chances of getting a job.
Which accents are the most employable?
Professor Lance Workman of the University of South Wales revealed that some accents were being favoured more than others by employers. Unfortunately, the preferred accent seemed to be RP/Queen’s English which is only spoken by 3% of the population. This is based upon the assumption that perceptions of high intelligence are strongly linked with the accent.
Alternatively, the Birmingham accent was revealed to be considered as a less intelligent accent. According to the research, 16% of ‘Brummies’ have attempted to change or reduce their natural accent in a job interview.
Attitudes towards the Welsh accent
In 2013, ComRes and ITV interviewed 2,006 adults in early August, 2,014 adults in mid-August and 2,025 adults in September to determine the attitudes to different regional accents. They discovered that…
- 28% of Brits feel discriminated against because of the way they speak. 14% feel accent discrimination in the workplace and 12% in job interviews.
- Discrimination in different situations varies, with 20% also feeling discrimination in social situations and 13% when being served in shops or restaurants too.
Luckily, the survey results suggest that the Welsh accent, in particular the Cardiff accent, connotates positive assumptions in society and with employers. The Cardiff accent received 51% of the votes when survey respondents were asked which accent they considered to be the ‘most friendly’. Similarly, the Cardiff accent made the top five for the ‘most intelligent accent’ (23% of votes) and the ‘most trustworthy accent’ (37% of votes). Clearly, the Cardiff accent is well received amongst both employers and members of society.
However, this wasn’t the case for other regional accents. According to the survey results, Liverpool accents seems to be perceived the most negatively, ranking number one for the ‘most unfriendly accent’, the ‘most unintelligent accent’ and also the ‘most untrustworthy accent’.
Combating accent discrimination
Whether your accent is well received by an employer or not, their decision should be based upon your capabilities and personality, not solely your accent. As an applicant, there are a few approaches you can take to avoid accent discrimination:
- Stay clear of using regional slang, but don’t hide your accent – advice from Francesca Turner, a National Careers Service adviser.
- Don’t change your accent or the way you speak – advice from Brian Staines, Senior Career Adviser at the University of Bristol.
- Embrace your accent – back in 2014, Liverpudlian jobs minister Esther McVey advised people from the North West not to feel pressured to change their accent. McVey argued that people make a variety of judgements when looking for employees and that ‘we just need people who reflect other people’ and that her accent hadn’t held her back in her career.
As an employer, it is your responsibility during the recruitment process to hire the applicant that is most suited to the job – your decision should not be influenced by the candidate’s accent. Make sure you make a decision based on the right factors by following these preventative measures – according to HR Daily Advisor and HMR.
- Make sure those with accents are not singled out in any way.
- Make sure all parts of the interviewing process do not discriminate.
- Try to avoid placing individuals with certain accents in certain roles.
- Avoid questioning the suitability of certain accents for roles over others.