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Is your accent employable?

Based upon research, it seems as though your regional accent is more influential than ever – especially when it comes to employability. For better or worse, the UK has different attitudes to its regional accents. But what do these attitudes mean for your employability? Factory cleaning company, in Newcastle, DCS Multiserve have provided the following research…

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Does your accent influence employability?

Research shows employers have allowed a strong accent to influence their decision when hiring. Eight in 10 employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents, according to a report by law firm Peninsula.

How employable is your accent?

Professor Lance Workman of the University of South Wales revealed in Recruiting Times that some accents are favoured by employers, during interview stages and even around the workplace.

In fact, he discovered that the Queen’s English, or RP, is the most favoured accent to employers, despite being spoken by only 3% of the population. This was linked strongly to perceived levels of intelligence associated with a Queen’s English/RP accent, ahead of other regional accents.

Workman commented: “Despite changes in attitudes of the general populace to RP, when it comes to recruitment to the elite professions, it is clear that many of those with regional accents are still hitting a class ceiling.”

However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Birmingham accent was discovered to be less intelligent – according to the research. 16% of Brummies have attempted to reduce their natural accent in job interviews.

Which accents are the most employable?

And likewise, which accents are the least employable? Whether they are positive or negative, different assumptions are made based on accents in Great Britain. 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.

The most ‘trustworthy’ accent is RP/Queen’s English

The top five ‘trustworthy’ accents, as voted by survey respondents, were:

  • RP/Queen’s English (51% of votes as ‘trustworthy’)
  • Devon (51% of votes as ‘trustworthy’)
  • Edinburgh (44% of votes as ‘trustworthy’)
  • Cardiff (37% of votes as ‘trustworthy’)
  • Newcastle (36% of votes as ‘trustworthy’)

The most ‘untrustworthy’ accent is Liverpool

The top five ‘untrustworthy’ accents, as voted by survey respondents, were:

  • Liverpool (29% of votes as ‘untrustworthy’)
  • Cockney (24% of votes as ‘untrustworthy’)
  • Belfast (20% of votes as ‘untrustworthy’)
  • Birmingham (17% of votes as ‘untrustworthy’)
  • Manchester (17% of votes as ‘untrustworthy’)

The most ‘friendly’ regional accent is Devon

The top five ‘friendly’ accents, as voted by survey respondents, were:

  • Devon (65% of votes as ‘friendly’)
  • Newcastle (56% of votes as ‘friendly’)
  • Edinburgh (51% of votes as ‘friendly’)
  • Cardiff (51% of votes as ‘friendly’)
  • Cockney (49% of votes as ‘friendly’)

The most ‘unfriendly’ regional accent is Liverpool

The top five ‘unfriendly’ accents, as voted by survey respondents, were:

  • Liverpool (26% of votes as ‘unfriendly’)
  • Belfast (24% of votes as ‘unfriendly’)
  • RP/Queen’s English (23% of votes as ‘unfriendly’)
  • Manchester (21% of votes as ‘unfriendly’)
  • Birmingham (21% of votes as ‘unfriendly’)

The most ‘intelligent’ accent is RP/Queen’s English

The top five ‘intelligent’ accents, as voted by survey respondents, were:

  • RP/Queen’s English (62% of votes as ‘intelligent’)
  • Edinburgh (38% of votes as ‘intelligent’)
  • Devon (28% of votes as ‘intelligent’)
  • Belfast (23% of votes as ‘intelligent’)
  • Cardiff (23% of votes as ‘intelligent’)

The most ‘unintelligent’ accent is Liverpool

The top five ‘unintelligent’ accents, as voted by survey respondents, were:

  • Liverpool (37% of votes as ‘unintelligent’)
  • Birmingham (33% of votes as ‘unintelligent’)
  • Cockney (32% of votes as ‘unintelligent’)
  • Newcastle (26% of votes as ‘unintelligent’)
  • Manchester (22% of votes as ‘unintelligent’)

In terms of accent discrimination itself, the survey respondents were also conscious of doing it – 6% admitted to discriminating against someone’s accent in the workplace and 4% in a job interview.

How to minimise accent discrimination

As an applicant:
There are some approaches that you can take to avoid accent discrimination. It’s recommended that:

  • 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. McVey also added: “I think it can be a colourful accent.”

As an employer:
During the hiring stage, an employee should make a decision based on an applicant’s capabilities and personality, rather than their accent. There are a number of preventative measures you can take – according to HR Daily Advisor and HMR. Some of these include:

  • 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.

 

Sources

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