- Jobhunters have felt they must 'neutralise or lose' accent, says minister
- She urges people not to give in to 'regional accent discrimination'
- Points to success of magician Dynamo and physicist Brian Cox
People trying to get a job should not have to hide their accents, the employment minister has said.
Liverpudlian Esther McVey warned that for too long jobhunters have felt they must 'neutralise or lose' their accent to persuade companies to take them on.
She said Scousers, Brummies and others with strong local dialects should be proud of where they come from to help stamp out 'regional accent discrimination'.
Miss Mcvey said businesses who reject people with strong accents would be missing out on some of the best talent in the world, pointing to the likes of politician William Hague, magician Dynamo and physicist Brian Cox as people who have not changed the way they speak.
She said it was the 'elephant in the room' that some people try to adopt neutral tones at the workplace as they believe it will help them get a job – or a promotion.
She told Buzzfeed: 'For too long people have had to neutralise or lose their accent out of fear of prejudicial treatment or to fit in.
'This has then led to a lack of regional accents which has allowed this lazy stereotyping and prejudicial attitudes to prevail.
'It's often the elephant in the room that we still just don't address - but I think it's a debate that needs to be had.
'People shouldn't have to lose their accents to get a fair crack at the whip at a job or move up within a sector or industry. Just think of the fantastic people you would be ruling out of your workforce.'
Miss McVey, 48, is a former GMTV presenter who then set up her own business. She has had a rapid rise up the ranks of the government since she was elected MP for Wirral West in 2010.
The minister, who is responsible for reducing youth unemployment, said if people were proud of their regional accents, it would help to eliminate prejudice.
She claimed that her own Liverpool accent had caused people to 'make judgements' about her in the past.
She said job applicants should try to overcome this by speaking well. 'You've got to make sure you have good diction, you've got to make sure you're clear, that you're speaking good English', she said.
'The more people don't lose their accents, the more commonplace it will be to hear accents across a range of careers in, for example, universities, the legal profession or in broadcasting', she said.
'That way we'd see regional accent discrimination become a thing of the past. Accents shouldn't be a stick which is used to beat people with – anyone from any walk of life can achieve whatever they want, regardless of what accent they have. Be proud of your accent – it says a lot about you and your heritage.
'Just think of the fantastic people you would be ruling out of your workforce.
'Everyone now wants to study physics and that's because of a brilliant guy from Oldham, Brian Cox. Dynamo is the world's best magician, you'd be ruling him out.
'And if you're looking at great politicians, William Hague is probably the most famous Yorkshireman.
'You look at Harold Wilson, look at James Callaghan, look at Lord Sugar. It brings with it character. In this day and age you can't be regionalist or anti-region.'
In 2012, a poll of business leaders found strong regional and 'working class' accents did hold people back in their careers – the 'worst' accent for getting a top job being the Essex accent, with Liverpool and Birmingham also mentioned.
But the business leaders also said they would have second thoughts about hiring someone with a very 'posh' accent such as man who spoke like Prince Charles.