In Sweden, we often pride ourselves with being progressive, equal and open. But if we compare ourselves to other EU countries things don’t look so good. The employment rate between native and foreign-born is larger in Sweden than in any other OECD-country and compared to other EU countries Sweden is the least tolerant towards people speaking with an accent in a job interview. Lernia, a leading employment agency and education provider wanted to stop this downward spiral in which we’re letting pronunciation drive us apart.
Instead of changing how we speak, we wanted to change how we listen. To get people to question their bias towards immaculate pronunciation we challenged the prevailing norm and created a voice sample of a New Standard Swedish. The New Standard Swedish is based on voice samples from around the country. Together with a renowned professor in linguistics, we morphed together the samples to create one collective voice. One voice that embraced all accents and dialects – instead of trying to erase them.
The New Standard Swedish started conversations about bias, language norms and integration all over Sweden in TV mornings shows, discussion boards on Reddit, podcasts, radio, blogs and social media.
· Earned media reach: 64 million
· The New Standard Swedish was discussed in the Swedish Parliament and defended by the Minister of Enterprise and Innovation
· Searches for ”Lernia” and ”Standard Swedish” reached an all-time high
· The making-of video was on the top 10 list of Youtube’s trending videos in Sweden
· An art gallery exhibited the New Standard Swedish