How to make it in business: don't have a regional accent

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The Independent Online

The Liverpool accent was once famously described as "one-third Irish, one-third Welsh and one-third catarrh" and it seems the British business community is inclined to agree.

Liverpudlian intonation is the source of most negative prejudice by business people, with 64 per cent of those questioned for a survey saying they viewed people with a Scouse accent as generally unsuccessful. Its negative connotation is followed by the Birmingham or West Midlands accent, a sign of business failure for 63 per cent of respondents in the Aziz Corporation survey.

Business people with a Home Counties accent are considered generally successful by 77 per cent of those in business, followed by people with a US accent (73 per cent) and a Scottish one (63 per cent). The benefit of an overseas accent is strengthened by the finding that business people with Indian or Asian accents are seen as hard working by 69 per cent of their peers.

Those with American accents are seen as diligent by 66 per cent, followed by Scottish (61 per cent) and a Home Counties accent(50 per cent). Only 24 per cent of executives consider those with a Scouse accent to be hard working. A Welsh or West Country accent fared almost as badly (29 per cent).

"Although it may not be politically correct to believe accents matter nowadays, it is very apparent that popular prejudices still exist," said Khalid Aziz, chairman of the Aziz Corporation. "If you want to get ahead in business and don't speak the Queen's English, it is better to sound as if you are from the US, Europe, India or indeed Scotland than any English region. The key is to avoid using localised vocabulary, which others may not recognise."

The novelist Beryl Bainbridge, one of Liverpool's most famous daughters, has been quoted as saying that abandoning her Scouse accent helped her career.