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Is it time for Accent Discrimination to be made illegal?

Is it time for Accent Discrimination to be made illegal?

Is it time for Accent Discrimination to be made illegal?

Have you ever felt discriminated against because of the way you speak? Have you ever been told you needed to soften, or even lose, your accent, in order to get ahead in the workplace? Is ‘accent discrimination’ an actual thing?

Well, the French government have decided it is, and have legislated accordingly. Should the UK follow suit, and add accent to the existing list of protected characteristics, or would that be a discrimination law too far?

Having moved around the country a good deal in my early years, I came across a wide range of accents and came to appreciate the incredible accent diversity in the UK, where in some places you only need to travel ten miles or so ‘down the road’ to hear a markedly different accent. Yet, while we might rightly see accent diversity as a cause for celebration, there seems to be a good amount of evidence that certain accents can place people at an unfair advantage when it comes to accessing job opportunities and having ability and potential properly recognised.

This article highlights the frequent casting of Northern actors as servants and this one suggests some recruiters rate not speaking at all preferable to the wonderful Brummie accent. Some of this accent discrimination can be linked to other acknowledge forms of discrimination (e.g. racism and discrimination on the grounds of social class) and much of it also to the (ridiculous) idea that some accents denote a less intelligent person than others.

Here, Jasmine Anderson draws a clear link to social class discrimination and makes a passionate argument for the UK to follow France’s legislative example, but if that doesn’t happen what else might be done to combat accent discrimination?

In her article for Forbes magazine, Accent Bias: How Can We Minimize Discrimination In The Workplace? Pragya Agarwal, who references her own Indian accent and the prejudice UK residents from abroad can face, suggests we all can be prone to unconscious accent bias, stops short of arguing for a legislative solution to accent discrimination, but recommends a number of actions that can be taken by employers to minimise the problem, including training to combat unconscious bias, the development of specific toolkits and the conscious and proactive recruitment of more diverse teams, to encourage the idea that we can all ‘make a conscious effort to look beyond prejudices relating to the delivery of a message to the actual content of that message.’

It’s completely understandable that someone might decide to modify or lose an accent to avoid having their talents overlooked or not being properly listened to, and everyone has a responsibility to try to be understood, as well as to try to understand, but wouldn’t it be great if nobody felt the need to alter their natural accent.

Maybe a legal solution is the answer. What do you think?

Paul's Pricing Guide

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£45

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Career Tip: Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides

Career Tip: Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides

Career Tip: Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other People’s Outsides

Have you ever found yourself judging your internal experience by looking at others’ external demeanour? Or to put it another way, judging your behind-the-scenes preparations against someone else’s ‘highlights reel’? From a career development perspective, this is a mindset well worth avoiding.

In the ‘old days’ (pre-Zoom), we might go for a job interview and end up sitting with the other candidates, nervously waiting to be called in for our ‘grilling’, or maybe sweating through the ordeal of an assessed group exercise.

If you’ve been in that situation, maybe you can recall the distinct feeling that everyone else seemed calm, confident and generally together while you were focussing on your sweaty palms, shaky voice, and the fluttering of butterflies in your stomach. You might have had a similar experience on your first day at a new school, or a new job, or in a particularly high stakes meeting where you’ve wondered ‘am I the only one here who doesn’t quite get it?’

The American writer Anne Lamott is credited with the instruction ‘don’t judge your insides by other peoples’ outsides’ The thing is, we can easily fall into seeing others’ external poise and apparent confidence and comparing it with our own inner unease when that comparison isn’t valid-because we can’t see what’s going on in their heads.

Or we may be the one struggling to find a direction for our career, and thinking that everyone else seems to have theirs sorted. This is usually an illusion.

Left unchecked, the tendency to judge our insides by others outsides can seriously stifle our willingness to take chances, put ourselves forward for opportunities, and express our honest opinion on something that’s really important to us. In short, the effects can be limiting to our career and to life in general.

So, in that interview waiting area, that new team you’ve joined, or that high stakes meeting, it’s really worth remembering that others are probably experiencing something similar to you. They might even be looking at you and thinking ‘he/she seems to have it all together!’ The truth is we are all ‘muddling through’ in one way or another, putting on our ‘fake it to make it’ face and often just putting one foot in front of the other and taking the next breath to keep going.

See Hollywood actor Rob Lowe’s personal and powerful take on not judging our insides by other peoples outsides here Rob Lowe: “Don’t Judge Your Insides by Someone Else’s Outsides”.

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35

 

3 Essentials for Answering Interview Opening Questions

3 Essentials for Answering Interview Opening Questions

3 Essentials for Answering Interview Opening Questions

The job interview is a ritualistic dance in which the best partners whirl away with the glittering prizes. Learn the steps and you too can dance the dance… your partner in the dance is the interviewer, who will lead with tough questions that contain subtleties hidden from the untrained ear.
Martin John Yate, Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions

From my experience of chairing interview panels, debriefing candidates post-interview, talking to recruiters about what great candidates do, and of course being interviewed plenty of times myself, here’s an observation.

In the vast majority of job interviews, the opening question is a broad, open-ended question that is asking for more that it might seem; typical variants of this type of question include;

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you?

Questions like these can be a nightmare for the unprepared interviewee, and a gift for the prepared one.

From an interviewers perspective, they can provide a quick way of assessing a number of things.

  • How confident, articulate and enthusiastic you are
  • How you match the impression of you they have picked up from your written application
  • How you describe yourself and your achievements
  • How well you have researched and understood the job description
  • How well you have researched their organisation
  • What motivates you at work and how you see your future developing

So what should you include in your answer to ensure the best possible chance of positively conveying all of the above. Here are three elements that you should always to include in your answer;

1. What’s great about the organisation
You will want them to know that you are someone who can add value to the organisation and who identifies with what they stand for. A great way to do this convincingly is to demonstrate that you have done your research about them. For example, you might use some of the words and phrases they have used in the ‘about us’ section of their website; facts about what they have achieved; or citing positive comments you have seen or heard about the organisation (e.g via reviews on Glassdoor)

2. What’s great about the role
You will want to demonstrate your suitability for the role by showing your clear knowledge and understanding of the role and highlighting the particular aspects that appeal to you. For example, ‘I really like the fact that I can work across different project teams’ or ‘I like the balance between customer facing work and backroom planning tasks’

3. What’s great about about you and the value you can add to the organisation

You should make sure that you highlight, skills, experience, knowledge, and achievements that directly link to the specifics of the job role and the vision and mission of the organisation. For example, ‘I know that negotiating is a really important part of the job, and in my role at xxxx I negotiated with external suppliers and was able to help generate £xxxx of savings’ , or ‘I have shown my flexibility and commitment by being willing to change shifts, and cover for absent staff at short notice on several occasions’

One of the best ways to get really confident at answering these and other common interview questions is to practice, practice, practice…….

In one of my intensive interview preparation and practice interview sessions, I can take you through some of the most common interview questions, tailored to the job you are applying for, and help you develop specific and convincing answers that will help you to nail the interview. Get in touch to book a session.

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35

 

Job Interview Success and Fine Margins

Job Interview Success and Fine Margins

Job Interview Success and Fine Margins

Job Interview SuccessUsain Bolt is famous the world over for his extraordinary athletic exploits. As the overwhelming favourite, he successfully defended his 100m title at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, running a mind-boggling 9.81 seconds. In the same race, US athlete Trayvon Bromell finished the race in 10.6 seconds-less than a second behind Bolt. As an illustration of how tight margins between winning and losing can be this takes some beating. It becomes even more incredible when you take in the fact that Bromell finished 8 th (and last) with six other athletes finishing between Bolt and Bromell!

If you’re actively job seeking, margins can also be incredibly tight. In my experience this can often be true for when it comes to job interviews.

A few years ago, I chaired a job interview panel to appoint to a newly created post in my team. There were three of us on the panel and three candidates invited for interview. All three candidates performed very well.

So, after the interviews, the panel conferred on who to appoint.

I asked my fellow panellists to identify their strongest candidate and then I disclosed mine. Each of us thought a different candidate was the best. Each of us was able to put up a persuasive argument for their preferred candidate. Each candidate had skills, knowledge or experience relevant to the job that the others didn’t. At this point we expressed our wish that we had three jobs to offer rather than one!

What ensued was a further discussion for the best part of an hour. We wanted to do the best thing by us (pick the ‘right’ candidate), and to do the best thing by the interviewees (really look at all aspects of what each candidate could offer for the role).

We made our decision and the person we appointed was a great success in the job. I have no idea what happened to the other candidates after that, but we gave them good feedback and let them know they had been in serious contention, and I hope and expect they will have gone on to do very well.

The moral of the story is that the margins between getting the job or not at interview can be incredibly tight. You can deliver an excellent interview performance and still not get the job. All you can really do is maximise your chances by being as prepared and positive about yourself as possible, because the right answer at the right time; a really good example of your ability or knowledge, or being able to put over your most confident and relaxed demeanour(not easy I know) may just swing things in your favour.

Get in touch and I’ll help you to maximise your chances of being on the right side of those fine margins!

Paul's Pricing Guide

Discovery Session
20 minutes - No commitment

Free

Career Consultations -
Includes email follow up & career resources

£50

Job Interview Preparation -
Interview preparation consultation

£45

Job Application checks
Includes free guide to social media networking for emloyment

£35