I was watching one of my favorite television shows, “The King of Queens,” and the episode came on where Carrie was trying to get a promotion at her job. She was told that she would be a perfect candidate except for her accent. Shocked and disheartened, she tried to do everything she could to make her accent almost non-existent in order to get that promotion. If the only thing holding you back from getting a promotion was your strong accent, would you change it?
My entire family is from Trinidad. My brother and I were the first generation to be born in the United States. Although we were born here, we both had extremely strong accents. People always thought we were born in Trinidad. Once I started school, I was picked on because of the way I spoke. It wasn’t an issue that people couldn’t understand me (in fact I was always told I spoke very well), but simply that it was something foreign to them. In an attempt to stop all of the harassment I received, my mother got me a speech tutor in order to tone down my heavy accent. It did help, but no matter what that accent wasn’t going anywhere. I grew to love it and embrace it because it was a beautiful aspect of my culture.
On the other hand, now as an adult I have seen many people who are in the corporate world turn their accents on and off in order to appease their employers. Again, the way these people spoke was not in a manner that they couldn’t be understood, but they all knew that the higher they went up the corporate ladder the more they had to decrease or hide their accentss. I always thought this was a shame because a dialect is a representation of where you and your family came from. As long as it isn’t so outrageous that only other people from you home state or country can understand it then I don’t see a reason for changing it. It is part of what makes you an individual.
I have noticed that when people are trying to advance in their careers that they will change anything from their style of dress and hair to the way they speak in order to get ahead. They in essence put on a disguise in order to please others. I remember an episode of “Living Single,” where Kyle was told by a colleague that if he wanted to get a promotion that he would have to cut off his locs. After much consideration, Kyle decided to keep his locs and was still offered the position.
I understand that some companies have a particular look and sound that they want those representing the company in high positions to have, but how much about yourself would you change in order to advance in your career?