What Does an Accent Mean for Success in the Workplace?
In today’s workplace, accents are inevitable. However, when accents are heard, different biases and social judgements can take place around the individual’s intelligence or competence, depending on the accent. It’s a fact that people are often perceived as less credible when it is more difficult to understand what they say.
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is illegal to make an employment decision based on foreign accent, unless it “seriously interferes” with the job being applied for. However, many companies find a way around this very general statement and some clients have indicated to me that they feel their accent got in the way of them being hired at a new position.
Not Created Equal
Research has shown that a Western European accent is held in higher regard than other accents. Biases are often present even though they may not be intentional.
If you find your accent is holding you back in the workplace, an accent reduction program may be helpful in lessening the intensity of your accent. Working with a qualified speech-language pathologist with specific knowledge in this area is a worthwhile avenue to help you achieve your goals.
Affecting Social Communication?
Do you find that your Canadian friends are having trouble understanding you when you are out together? Are friends leaving you out of conversations because you don’t understand the lingo?
It is a fact that when a person emigrates from another country and has a heavy accent, they tend to gravitate towards people with similar accents and from similar countries until they are more comfortable with the language.
Immersing yourself in the language of the country and making friends with natives of that region, can help you learn more about the colloquial phrases, jargon, and slang terms that are leaving you left out of conversations.
Lessening your accent will help to reduce the biases people place on those who have accents and help you with your social integration. Joining clubs, sports groups, etc., can help you immerse yourself in the language native to the country you are living in.
For an accurate analysis of your accent and specific goals to lessen your accent, seek professional advice from a qualified speech – language pathologist who specializes in this area.
Linda Saarenvirta, M.S., SLP Reg. CASLPO, has been practicing for 11 years as a registered speech –language pathologist at S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks. During her time at Speech Works, she has worked with a variety of clientele, both pediatric and adults, including: articulation and language, fluency, voice, acquired brain injury, stroke, and accent reduction. For the past 5 years, Linda has focussed in the area of vocal rehabilitation and utilizes the videostroboscopy tool for assessment of vocal cord movement as well as the Visi –Pitch program for analysis of pitch, intensity, and stability of the vocal cords. She has taken the Acoustic and Aerodynamic Instrumentation Workshop by KayPentax to facilitate her work with indepth analysis of vocal cord functioning. She enjoys working with all clientele and believes strongly in the client centered approach that S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks provides.