Georgians are among the most likely to change the way they talk in job interviews, according to a recent survey by Writing Tips Institute. The study found that 45% of job applicants with a southern accent modify their speech patterns when applying for jobs, fearing negative stereotypes and potential wage penalties.
Research from the University of Chicago and the University of Munich revealed that people with strong regional accents face a wage penalty of 20% compared to those who speak with a “standard accent.” This wage penalty is equivalent to that of the gender wage gap.
The Writing Tips Institute’s survey of 3,000 job applicants showed that over one-third (38%) “soften” their regional accents in job interviews. Job applicants from Western New England (51%) were the most likely to alter their speech patterns, followed by those with a South Midland accent (50%) and the New Jersey accent (45%).
Southern accents are characterized by elongated vowels, a slower and more relaxed pace of speech, and a tendency to drop the final “g” sound in words that end in “-ing.”
In addition to identifying the accents most likely to be modified, the survey revealed the industries where workers are more likely to change their accents. The top industry was Real Estate, with 46% of respondents admitting to softening their regional accents, followed by Tourism, Public Service, IT, Engineering, Hospitality, Finance, Retail, Healthcare, Media, Education, Legal, Technology, and Energy.
Shaun Connell, Founder & CEO of Writing Tips Institute, expressed concern over the pressure to conform to linguistic norms, particularly in industries that value communication skills, such as sales or customer service. He emphasized that linguistic diversity is a valuable aspect of culture, and no one should feel the need to alter their accent or language to be successful in their profession.
“The pressure to conform to linguistic norms can be especially pronounced in industries that place a high value on communication skills, such as sales or customer service. While this may be an effective strategy for some job seekers, it’s a shame that people feel like they have to change an integral part of their identity in order to be accepted or successful in a job. It’s important to recognize that linguistic diversity is a valuable and enriching aspect of our culture, and no one should feel like they have to alter their accent or language in order to be successful,” Connell said.