UK bosses cock a snook at posh accents

Almost half of the UK’s company directors and senior managers believe that a plummy or posh upper-class accent is now a hindrance rather than a help when it comes to succeeding in business.


However, according to research from The Aziz Corporation – an executive communications consultancy – having a working-class accent is considered as even worse, with 86% of those who took part in the survey feeling it is a disadvantage in business.


One in six businessmen believe a neutral accent would be a strong advantage.


While the expansion of accents heard in broadcast media, both upper and working class, has helped bridge the class divide to some degree, it is clear from the research that the business world puts more emphasis on personality than how posh someone is. Having a cheerful and upbeat manner was seen as a strong advantage by 74%, while having a good sense of humour was highly regarded by 54% of respondents.


Khalid Aziz, chairman of the Aziz Corporation, said the days when merely speaking with ‘the right accent’ was a prerequisite to rising in the business world were now all but gone, although being an effective communicator was still paramount.


“The rise of the UK’s self-made men, often from working-class backgrounds, such as BHS boss Philip Green or Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, reflects the changing profile of the successful boss. These are people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and are proud to make a virtue of the fact that they have worked their way up from humble beginnings to positions of influence. In both cases though, they are better known for their forceful and charismatic personalities than for their class origins.


“The Duke of Wellington may have thought that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, but today’s business leaders were clearly educated elsewhere,” said Aziz.

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