In a perfect world, we would celebrate our differences to create understanding and advancement among diverse groups of people. Unfortunately, our differences can sometimes divide us rather than bring us together. Discrimination is real in today’s global society, an issue that takes on many different forms. From gender discrimination to racial discrimination. Every day, the effects of prejudice disadvantage many competent and driven individuals. One form of prejudice that is often overlooked is accent discrimination.
This form of discrimination occurs when a person’s accent differs from the norms of the culture or environment in which they live or work. Accent discrimination impacts people all over the planet, and its effects on people’s lives are serious and sometimes devastating.
Why does accent discrimination occur?
Accent discrimination is rooted in assumptions and stereotypes. Every person learns biases and stereotypes throughout their lives. Often, these biases become so ingrained that people don’t realize they exist, allowing prejudices against individuals with accents to flourish unchecked.
According to one study, it takes just 30 seconds from hearing someone speak for a listener to subconsciously develop a set of assumptions about a person’s identity that can then create a stereotyped idea of that person’s abilities and trustworthiness. For instance, another study found that people are less likely to believe sentences that are spoken in a foreign accent.
What are the effects of accent discrimination?
Accent discrimination can have immense consequences for people’s personal and professional lives. Discrimination can make emotional adjustments to a new country difficult. In addition, this insidious form of discrimination can have a significant negative impact on professionals’ careers. When coworkers, clients, or partners discriminate based on accents, qualified and competent workers can experience limitations in their opportunities to advance and succeed professionally.
How can accent discrimination be prevented?
It is clear, that, accent discrimination creates real harm and injustice in our world. So, what can we do to correct these biases? Communication is a two-way street; ensuring everybody’s message is heard equally starts with listening and learning.
Nobody is born prejudiced. Research has shown that our biases, stereotypes, and assumptions about other people are learned and developed from life experiences, the opinions of others, or influences of the media that we consume. This means that the first step in reducing accent discrimination is for listeners to unlearn toxic and prejudiced assumptions through introspection and active listening. Workplace trainings and anti-discrimination policies can help listeners learn how to avoid discriminating based on accent.
Unfortunately, you can’t always control the prejudices of those around you. People with accents can also take proactive strategies to minimize their chances of experiencing discrimination. That’s where an accent reduction specialist can help. Accent modification training uses scientifically proven methods to help people with accents achieve clarity and effectiveness in their speech.
If you feel you are being limited by your accent, we can help. With our online accent reduction programs, you can work with a certified Speech Language Pathologist to meet your accent goals, ensuring that you reach your full communication potential in the workplace and beyond.