Firms shy away from regional accents

Almost a third of UK directors think that a strong regional accent is a disadvantage in business, with directors of small companies and those in the financial services sector most likely to discriminate against regional twangs.

Businessmen from the English regions appear to be at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts from the Home Counties, Scotland, America and Continental Europe, according to the latest survey from spoken communications consultancy The Aziz Corporation.

Individuals with Home Counties or American accents are judged most likely to be successful, according to 43% of respondents, closely followed by those with a Scottish accent (36%) and those with a Continental European accent (33%).

And although the number of UK directors who believe strong accents can be a hindrance in business is down nine per cent in the last 12 months, only 4% of think a strong regional accent is an advantage.

The survey also highlights some interesting stereotypes about accents. Those with American or Scottish accents are considered to be hardworking and reliable by 31% of their British peers. But Scottish accents are more likely than American accents to be identified with honesty and trustworthiness.

Individuals with a West Country accent are considered to be more honest than the average by a quarter of survey respondents, closely followed by those with Welsh and ‘Geordie’ accents (21%. Respondents were also more likely to believe that Cockney and ‘Scouse’ accents convey less than average honesty.

Khalid Aziz, chairman of The Aziz Corporation, said they survey highlighted a nationwide obsession with accents and what we think they tell other people about us.

‘Although regional accents are more widely accepted in the media, and to a certain degree in business, this survey shows that in the workplace, a distinctive twang may still hinder individuals. The key is to avoid using localised vocabulary which others may not recognise. We would advise individuals to consider softening broad accents – not get rid of them.

Related reading