"You need an upper class English accent to succeed in London banking"

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I am an Indian by birth. I left India over a decade ago and have worked around the world in the finance industry before coming to London. Now that I am here, I feel that my progress is blocked. And it has nothing to do with my expertise. 

In London, it's the people who speak English with an upper class accent that get all the jobs. Time and again I have seen that the people who get promoted here are not the people with the best knowledge or the best expertise, but the best accents.

If, like me, you have excellent domain knowledge, but you speak English with an accent from Hyderabad or Bangalore, you reach a ceiling. The expectation is that you will be a domain expert, but that you will stand behind the big boys - who all have the correct kind of articulation.

It's not like this elsewhere. In America, I see Indians from all kinds of backgrounds and with their original accents thriving - just look at the leaders of Alphabet or Microsoft. The recognition you get is completely different. In London, you are penalized. I have been told that I do the job of two or three people, but I also find my voice is absolutely suppressed. 

As a natural introvert, this is difficult to deal with. There are actions I could take to improve my situation: I have no doubt that if I went to elocution classes, it would make a difference. But I also think it's London's loss: there are plenty of talented immigrants in the City; they need to be given a chance.

Rajendra Shree is a pseudonym

Photo by Fernando Venzano on Unsplash

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