Did you know that it takes less than 30 seconds to profile a person based on their language, according to research? Think about the last time you first met someone with an accent. Did you think, wow, I bet there is so much I can learn from this person? Or did you think something negative?
I spoke to a top executive who refused to appear on camera for a short presentation on his company’s website. He said, “I would like to participate, but I cannot because of my accent.” He felt this way though no one in the company had a problem understanding him.
Bias against people with foreign accents is a sad reality. When a covered employer (15 or more employees) treats an applicant or employee unfavorably because of their accent, it is generally a form of national origin discrimination, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The next time you meet someone with an accent, do not make any assumptions about them. Isn’t it time we stopped judging people who are different from us, so no one ever utters the words “I cannot because of my accent”? Please share your thoughts on what steps you can take to help eliminate accent bias.