When someone has biases about your abilities or how you are as a person based on your accent, this is called accentism. This can arise in situations like interviews, where first impressions can be critical to career progression. For example, you could be favoured for a role if you’re considered to be more well-spoken, despite being underqualified. Similarly, you could be rejected because you’ve got an accent even though you fit the job specifications.
A poll revealed that 64% of people believed their accent had impacted their employment prospects/success within interviews, with 30% stating their accent has had a negative effect
How Can It Impact Workers?
If a company or team has internal accentism, it can lead to severe consequences for both the employees and the business itself:
If a workplace becomes too toxic to function in, for example if people begin to get excluded or feel bullied, they’ll want to leave. It can also be incredibly off putting to other employees if they see their colleague being mistreated and may want to leave too. In turn, this impacts the employee retention levels.
Missing out on talent:
In the US and UK markets, a talent shortage of 80m is projected by 2030. Limiting your talent pool to those with certain accents, will lead to missing out on valuable talent, stretching hiring timelines and exacerbating the challenges around talent attraction in an already difficult market.
Loss of Business:
Making assumptions about a client or partner due to their accent can lose valuable opportunities for the business, as well as damage reputations and make the company undesirable to work with.
Going into a competitive field with an accent can be incredibly daunting, and from personal experience, it’s almost second nature to try and sound softer spoken. Many a time I’ve had to repeat myself to colleagues which I understand, however when it gets taken a step further into ‘banter’- the line can become very thin on whether to be offended.
Fact: There’s an 87% more chance of better business decisions being made if your team is more diverse.