Co worker of Indian origin regularly mocked for his accent. Should I report it to HR or leave it?

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Jan 11 75 Comments

I’m of Pakistani origin. I have a British accent since that is where I grew up. My best friend in my team is Indian. We, along with an Asian guy, are also the only non white guys in our team of about 16. He is a relatively recent immigrant and has a moderately strong Indian accent.

Without question, he is the smartest person in our team. He has delivered the most impact not just in terms of quantitative metrics but also in a way where his work is definitely very recognized. My manager has repeatedly praised him as one of the most excellent workers he’s seen. Work wise and career wise, he is well respected, and I’m proud of him.

Yet when it comes to any sort of social situation, team gathering, or really anything else, the amount of times he’s just been mocked for his race or accent (when he’s not present) is uncountable. Just last week, one of my coworkers hosting an event asked me to not invite him (I’m close to him) since he’ll just “weird” everyone out the way he talks. Every time I hang out with two of my co workers, and they’re a bit drunk and the topic of him comes up, those same two just start mocking his accent non chalantly. There was one moment where one of the guys said “Imagine being that successful but then going home to a wife who probably cringes during sex while hearing his voice.” I realize they were drunk, but to me, it reveals true intentions. Do you think that something in regards to HR should be done? Should I approach them face to face maybe about this topic?

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TOP 75 Comments
  • Amazon / Eng GHskann
    What is it with Pakistanis on Blind being huge social justice buffs? Grow up. Accents are near-universally *bad* and looked down upon (for many valid and important reasons). Get over it.

    But also making fun of people behind their back is probably not good either. Personally whenever I can’t understand someone at work I just straight up tell them I can’t understand them. I don’t explain why (unless they ask), or grant sympathy. The basic expectation of the workplace is the ability to communicate clearly.

    However, if the populace is inclined to make fun of you, you probably deserve it one way or another. Typically people mock features or habits of people that are possible to change. For example, anyone smart enough to be at Facebook is smart enough to fix their accent. Your coworker simply sounds unsocialized and poorly acclimated to western culture. To me, he should be mocked, because he’s perfectly capable of changing and should do so. Of course, behind the back mocking doesn’t do anyone any good. Your friends have no spine for not pointing out to this man he has bad habits that cause him to lead a sub-optimal social life.
    Jan 11 22
    • Amazon / Product mcke
      All Americans have accents because they speak English, which originated in England. Only the English don’t have an accent.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Like I said before, there’s a range of acceptable accents, and after a certain point diminishing returns kicks in.

      I didn’t say “different accent = bad communication”. That’s just a false assumption on your part, of what I meant. I said accent = sub-optimal communication. Sub-optimal doesn’t necessarily mean bad. One persons sub-optimal speech can be much better than another persons optimal speech. For example a brilliant immigrant with an acceptable accent speaking with greater impact than some average joe native speaker who can’t articulate his ideas clearly.

      And about mocking — personally I’d prefer to be mocked for something I can and should fix, than to go on in ignorance. Key point being “should”, which falls into grey subjective area (implying the need for caution and tact).

      But hey, some people prefer sympathy and politeness over honesty and workplace success. To these people I say: be my guest. They simply make it easier for me to out-compete them in the workplace.
      Jan 11
    • Facebook / Eng
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      OP
      You’re not out competing anyone. You’re unfortunately not intelligent enough to realize that it’s extremely difficult to change your accent after a certain age unless you spend literally all your time practicing or have a talent for it. I wonder what your reaction would be to my British accent. I refuse to continue the conversation with such gross unintelligence and ignorance.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Ok so not only are you unable to stand up for your friends, and use them to flex your social justice constitution online, but you discriminate based on age as well. Nice. Age discrimination is illegal in the US, by the way.

      As for your British accent, I’d probably just assume you’re a libtard.
      Jan 11
    • New / Other
      Reigen

      New Other

      BIO
      4 years teaching cs looking for first real swe job.
      Reigenmore
      There are a couple pretty decent points but Amazon is coming off as if they're for these practices of mocking people for accents and such but isn't really so.

      Your friend does have the resources to change his accent if he wanted to -- but over the span of years.

      During the time he's assimilating/acclimating to the culture, he'll get made fun of his accent which isn't okay. I'm sure he's reached the floor of acceptable business English if he's passed the fb interview. It's up to whether or not he has a growth mindset for him to push it beyond that.

      I think there should be some pressure to speak a country's native language if you migrate there but I also think its okay to stay within your own cultural bubble as long as it doesn't infringe on everyone else's rights.

      Live and let live you know.
      Jan 11
    • Microsoft Wahh28
      GHskann is an imbecile. I can tell by his lack of proper punctuation and grammar. This is something he could easily fix by going to grammar school. What a dumb fuck.
      Jan 11
    • Avant / Product Fu11_Tilt
      Hahaha it was a matter of time before the word "libtard" came out of this kid
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      It’s easier to make fun of me than to actually engage in discussion. Just like it’s easier to make fun of someone’s accent behind their back, than to let them know they are hard to understand.
      Jan 11
    • Microsoft Wahh28
      You're just butthurt that someone made fun of you for something you could easily fix.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Good one!
      Jan 11
  • Amazon / Eng tenders
    Overreaction, HR won’t care unless the person with the strong accent complains himself about being disrespected
    Jan 11 6
    • Facebook / Eng
      BmSC45

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      OP
      Well almost all of the time it’s behind his back so he doesn’t know. I haven’t told him about it yet, but was thinking of doing so. But then again, I don’t want to discourage him.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng tenders
      Stand up for your friend and don’t allow them to keep making fun of him.
      Jan 11
    • Facebook / Eng
      BmSC45

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      OP
      I have told them to stop a couple of times but they just said it’s casual banter. I’m thinking of sternly telling them this time and approaching them about it.
      Jan 11
    • New / Eng Jefe Pesos
      Yeah just keep thinking about it. Don’t do it. We know you are beta like all of us.
      Jan 11
    • Facebook / Eng
      BmSC45

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      ? You have three strikes where you call em out on the first two then you go hard on the third one being stern to their face. Strike three has been reached. I’ll have them suffer consequences through HR after this call out if they continue to behave like children. I will do it, don’t worry.
      Jan 11
    • Oath waterfron
      If it is behind his back, no need to worry . If u tell him, u will make him unhappy and it can affect his work. Let him be the way he is. He will burn those haters with his hard work. Someday those haters will leave the company. Mark my words. He is unbearable to them with his performance and accent :)
      Jan 11
  • New / Sales
    llluminati

    New Sales

    BIO
    I make stuff and I’m super into it.
    llluminatimore
    As much as I like making fun of pajeets online, this sort of thing is never tolerable

    A: you never make fun of someone for something they can’t help
    B: you never talk about what goes on between a man and his wife

    But...

    C: You need to tell these people something to their face instead of being a chickenshit and going to HR. You can go big or small, however you choose, but I personally would look them straight in the eye and say “What goes on between him and his wife is none of your fucking business”

    Aka: be a man and settle this yourself. Do the needful 🤘
    Jan 11 10
    • Facebook / Eng
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      “Pajeet” “Do the needful” You’re part of the problem.

      As for the rest, yeah. I am going to tell them it’s not okay to their face. I just wanted to phrase it in a way where I don’t create an “us vs them” situation but fuck it.
      Jan 11
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      I say that online to troll. But I have never, EVER thought of someone who looks different from me or sounds different from me as less than me. I am an immigrant and this country was built on the back if immigrants.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      @illuminati I seriously doubt a relevant percentage of western professionals consider themselves better than immigrants, at least as far as basic human value goes.

      But the fact is accents make it harder to understand you, and in this way make a person to be an inferior communicator than they could be. It’s sub-optimal. This is obvious, and undeniable. Pretending otherwise is simply pearl-clutching onto wishful ideals.
      Jan 11
    • Facebook mJKe77
      "But the fact is accents make it harder to understand you, and this way makes a person to be an inferior communicator..." That's a pile of rubbish communication is 1 part speaking and 1 part LISTENING. If the guy speaks well enough to pass a FB interview then he is understandable. My question is why is it only Indian/Pakistani accents singled out? Why not French or German or British? It takes two people to communicate NOT one. The fact is, a lot of people switch off when they hear an Indian accent (by their own admission) whether it is on a team at work or when calling customer service etc but they will be more understanding and try harder to understand the more typically "white foreign" accents. The problem is not the Indian or Pakistani the problem is thinking that because they've got a different accent (that I don't like the sound of) then the onus is on THEM to work to sound more like US. Nah they already speak English well enough to work at Facebook. How about you try harder to understand what they are saying and stop expecting everyone else to sound more like what you are used to....if anything the inferior communicator is the person who expects all accents to sound a certain way in order for them to understand it.
      Jan 11
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      @GHskann yes it does make you harder to understand, but OPs story talks about him being socially excluded because he “talks weird”.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Yep. That’s the reality of accents. And it’s not going to change from a bunch of virtue signaling on the internet. Bias against accents will never change. There will always be a hierarchy of preferable accents, and it’s up to the individual to do something about where they sit in that hierarchy. Liberals on the internet can do nothing about it, and this pisses them off since the liberal modus operandi is to flip hierarchies over.

      Problem with OP is he cares more about flexing and insulting people online than actually helping his friend. This is the common with the majority of liberals in tech, and by extension, Blind users.
      Jan 11
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      You just gotta say something to them. You cant sit by and then shitpost on blind. Even worse he accepts the invitation and then doesnt invite his friend, even though he knows the reason he’s not invited
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Agreed
      Jan 11
    • Facebook / Eng
      BmSC45

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      OP
      I never went to that event I was invited to
      Jan 11
    • Facebook / Eng
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      OP
      Also @illuminati: if you never thought of someone as less than you, you wouldn’t be casually trolling Indians primarily. I have no issue with trolling itself but just be consistent. Most people seem to only troll Indians/Asians and no one else because they think they’re easy targets.
      Jan 11
  • Facebook miscreants
    I always knew Facebook was lowkey racist against Indians. It makes sense considering HQ is dominated with all-Chinese teams.
    Jan 11 8
    • Facebook / Eng
      BmSC45

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      OP
      My team is almost all white.

      And to be fair, I have never seen anything like this on any other team I’ve been in, so it could be an exception.
      Jan 11
    • Facebook miscreants
      Yeah and that's pretty surprising. The Indians I know at FB would kill to work on your team because they're all stuck in all-Chinese teams and they give a whole new meaning to the word racist.
      Jan 11
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

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      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      Its Priscilla Chan not Priscilla Gupta. Do people really think these things happen by coincidence?
      Jan 11
    • Facebook miscreants
      That argument isn't valid though. Google has Sundar Pichai and his wife is also Indian. Doesn't mean there's racism against East Asians at Google.
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Isn’t saying the all Chinese teams mistreat Indians a racist generalization of the Chinese?
      Jan 11
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      Nah they just are given license because at facebook the pecking order is
      White - the boss
      Azn - the boss’s wife
      ———-
      Everyone else

      Y’all need to take more LSD not sure why I’m the only one who sees this shit
      Jan 11
    • Amazon / Eng GHskann
      Don’t think you need LSD to see that
      Jan 11
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      You either see the matrix or you dont
      Jan 11
  • Oracle / Eng QuankQuank
    You are Pakistani and he is Indian- it's hard to get along hahahaha
    Jan 11 1
    • Microsoft
      Dulqer

      Microsoft

      PRE
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      Manager of small dev team in Azure
      Dulqermore
      And you work at Oracle. Ha.ha.
      Jan 11
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      Jan 11
  • Zillow Group trollman
    First rule of hr:

    - Never talk to HR
    Jan 11 0
  • Amazon Nsgdbp
    This is toxic work environment, period. Your team needs some workplace harassment, diversity and inclusion trainings. Raise this with your manager in a one on one. You have no idea what they say about you behind your back. Textbook racism. Any joke, if it makes someone uncomfortable is not acceptable. If you can call it out in front of them, do it, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, go to your manager. If your workplace is any good, there should be zero tolerance from such behavior. I am in HR, and if I come to know of something like this, I would ask the manager to conduct a seek to understand conversation with the offenders and coach them that such behavior is not acceptable. Then we would assign workplace harassment, diversity and inclusion trainings to them, to make sure the message gets across that they are on thin ice with such behavior.
    Jan 11 0
  • Oracle iOFR21
    Highly intelligent people are usually socially awkward.
    Jan 11 1
    • New / Sales
      llluminati

      New Sales

      BIO
      I make stuff and I’m super into it.
      llluminatimore
      Not always. But yes there is a trend.
      Jan 11
  • Cisco / QA StoneHeart
    JFC, can people not be PC even when they are drunk? if they don't vent out then, then they can't put a facade to your friend at work. don't try to shove your preachings down other's throats.
    Jan 11 0
  • New DvVM00
    your team is immature. you are immature. let your buddy stick up for himself and mind your own business. this can only go bad, and if you do the needful it is you who will suffer.

    if you do want to go to HR, be careful what you wish for. but be clear that they are creating a hostile work environment *for you*.

    if you want to confront them, you aren’t their parent. just indirectly let them know you don’t care for their attitude. if told not to invite rajesh, tell them sure and you’re not interested in hanging out with racist assholes either. plain and simple you don’t need to get all confrontational.
    Jan 11 0
  • VMware qtUE03
    Please report to HR. Contrary to what many people say here, what these people are doing is a form of harassment even if it’s not done to someone’s face. And most companies do take it very seriously.
    Jan 11 0
  • Salesforce bunnyoff
    Report to HR if this looks like a harrassment
    Jan 11 0
  • Google yodeling
    Indians themselves mock each other about their accent. So I wouldnt mind if someone else does that to me as well.
    Jan 11 1
    • Google yodeling
      If you are an Indian, you will understand.
      Jan 11
  • Rubrik blindedog
    Such a toxic workplace! You and the Indian should quit right away!
    Jan 11 0
  • Tableau fragmented
    Tell them yourself or tell their manager. I've also known people to take classes to work on their accents. How old are these two? What level are they? If they're higher level, there could be reason to report them due to the fact expectations increase the higher your level.
    Jan 11 0
  • Microsoft Micr0s0ft
    Do the needful and report to HR
    Jan 11 0
  • Glooko / Other drditto
    It's a soft move by those who make fun of the accent, but it's not the worst form of discrimination out there. Stand up for your friend and stop being complicit and complaining about it to others.
    Jan 11 0
  • Tableau hellish
    Everyone should be respectful of others. Tell your peers to knock it off, if it doesn't stop tell hr. It doesn't matter if it's the weakest or strongest Dev.
    Jan 11 0
  • Amazon 8663472423
    Ask your friend to take American Accent classes
    Jan 11 1
    • Amazon / Eng 工口
      No, no matter how bad the accent he shouldn't have been made fun of. The only reason would be either discrimination or he is a dick and people hate him.
      Jan 12
  • Amazon / Eng 工口
    I have seen people with the worst accent and people never make fun of him or ask not to invite him to event.

    The ones I have seen in this situation usually have problem with attitude, as in being an ass that offend people.

    So, are you sure it is only about him being Indian or was he being an ass, throwing team member under the bridge, or taking others credit? That would immediately make other co workers gang up against the guy.
    Jan 11 1
    • Facebook / Eng
      BmSC45

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      No I have never seen him do that. It’s mainly two co workers though anyways, not the entire team.
      Jan 11
  • New / Eng ladka
    Let it go, man. People are dicks about others who are recognized well by management. This is especially true of low EQ developers. It's going to be a theme that you'll see through out your career. As long as they are dicks who just say and don't do bad stuff, it's okay.
    Jan 11 0
  • Google / Eng catburglar
    What ethnicity are the other folks?
    Jan 11 0
  • Dell LMA🌚
    Email Mark Zuckerberg about it and complain that you need more diversity in your team.
    Jan 11 0

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