Job interviews | Accent discrimination hits record levels

Brummies beware – a whopping 76% of employers have discriminated against job applicants because of their accents, with candidates from Birmingham the worst hit.

A study by law firm and prolific survey producers Peninsula found that ‘accent discrimination’ is widespread and job seekers are becoming increasingly desperate to disguise their regional twangs.

The worst accents as voted for by 2,647 employers, according to the survey were:

  1. Birmingham
  2. Liverpool
  3. Newcastle
  4. Glaswegian
  5. ‘London’ Cockney

There’s certainly an argument to be had that the Brummie accent is grating, but is it really enough to not give a job to someone? I’d certainly think about hiring Birmingham-born Cat Deeley.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, called the whole issue “a grey area” as there is no law dealing with discrimination on the grounds of accent.

Astoundingly, almost two-thirds of the 1,638 employees surveyed claimed to have ‘hidden’ their accent in an interview. Quite how they would do this is beyond me, particularly during an hour or so of intense questioning by a potential employer.

How did they try and hide it? Were there scores of Geordies pretending to come from Surrey or Scousers giving it the full Essex boy treatment?

If the attempts at accents at Personnel Today towers are anything to go by, you would probably end up with someone from south London sounding like they came from Cardiff via New Delhi.

Have you got any examples of discrimination by accent in the workplace? Let us know by posting a comment or emailing personneltoday@rbi.co.uk 

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24 Responses to Job interviews | Accent discrimination hits record levels

  1. Robert 8 August 2009 at 11:21 am #

    I am Birmingham born and bred, actually I spent most of my formative years in Willenhall – the heart of the ‘Black Country’. My accent has haunted me throughout my travels, and has possibly hinderd my business ventures. I have had the ‘Oh, I know where you’re from’ in a condescending manner, as soon as I have uttered hello. Despite this, I have been fairly successful in my endevours.

    I, at the age of 43 have decided to do something about it, and am now undergoing accent reduction, where my teacher very patiently has me recite poetry, and construct talks whereupon he corrects my mis directed vowel expressions. His popular phrases, being ‘Your vowels are flat’ and ‘Remember to modulate’. It is a difficult exercise, as most of the people I know, are stuck with their ‘twang’, even though they openly admit to hating the way they speak.

    So, in my attempt to speak in the style of received pronounciation, I muddle on.

    • Rhys 31 July 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      Hi Robert,

      We’re making a show about this topic for ITN’s Tonight Programme, could we talk to you possibly?

      Thanks,

      Rhys

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