Do nonnative professionals with accents have a glass ceiling?

We found a study by Juang, Frideger, and Pearce in the Journal of Applied Psychology (2013, Vol. 98. No. 6), that has received a lot of  remarks on some of the LinkedIn groups. According to the research, there are an estimated one billion nonnative speakers of English in the workplace. A study tested a theory that there is a perception that nonnative speakers have weak political skills. What did they mean by political skills? The authors of this article included competencies of interpersonal influence, social astuteness, networking ability, and sincerity.

Nonnative speakers were less likely to be recommended for middle management positions. These individuals had all of the same qualifications as the  native speakers except for their accents and they were 16% less likely to be offered executive positions. In a second study, nonnative speakers had a lower likelihood of receiving new-venture funding. The entrepreneurs with nonnative accents were 23% less likely to receive investment funding than those without accents. However, race, communication skills, and collaborative skills did not have an significant effect on the outcome. The greatest difference was political skills.

It appears that hiring professionals and investors of new ventures should become more aware of nonnative-accent bias to prevent them from missing the opportunity of hiring the best executives or making the best investment decisions. To read the article click here.