On Wednesday 7th June, we were joined by the amazing Rosi Petrova Charalambou, a Solution Consulting Leader at Adobe gave an insightful talk on our monthly Tackling Taboos masterclass on Accent Bias.

Do you ever subconsciously judge people when they have a foreign accent? It can be hard to admit but we are all naturally attracted to hearing native language speakers. This is known as accent bias.

When we listen to a foreign accent our brain must work much harder to make sense of the information. Starting from our infancy we are attracted to familiar voices and faces and hearing an unfamiliar accent can signal that the person is an outsider, a possible threat.

Many experiments have been run around the world and they all point to the same findings:

Foreign accent speakers can find it harder to get a job.
Foreign accent speakers are considered less trustworthy and less educated.
Native speakers are considered more intelligent and more successful.
46% of professionals with a foreign accent are being mocked or singled out during social settings with their colleagues.

As sad as it sounds there is some good news – the studies have shown that the more we are exposed to foreign accents the more our bias is reduced. The more we are aware of the accent bias phenomenon the less biased we are.  

To help the fight against these biases employers can push their diversity hiring targets and incorporate training in the recruitment industry. You can play an instrumental part by spreading the word and sharing this article with your colleagues, friends, and family.