Watch Your Language! Knoxville Businesswoman Urging Florida Companies to Invest in Foreign­-Born Workforce

Local CEO and speech pathologist brings her expertise to Orlando’s emerging tech hub.

Watch Your Language! LMA

KNOXVILLE, TN – August 2016 – Speaking at the 2016 HR Florida Conference in Orlando, Knoxville-based speech pathologist and Accentuate Communication CEO Lisa Scott has a clear message for Florida businesses: Investing in the language skills of your foreign-born professionals is crucial to financial growth.


“Orlando is positioning itself as a hub for technology and start-ups, and has an opportunity to learn from the English skills work we’ve been doing with foreign-born professionals at major research labs in the Knoxville area,” said Scott. “Specifically, we’re helping foreign-born engineers improve their American accent to better relate to the Knoxville and surrounding communities, and minimize those communication breakdowns that cost companies billions every year.”


In Tennessee from 2000 to 2010, the number of foreign-born workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jumped more than 84 percent. And in Florida, almost one in four STEM workers with an advanced degree was a foreigner in 2010.


“The language frustration is real for companies with a significant non-native workforce,” said Scott. “They’re seeing grants slip through their fingers. They’re losing out on big clients. And many talented internationals can’t move up the ladder because their English just needs a little more work.”


And new research is now backing up how improved English-language skills are helping college-educated immigrants succeed all over America.

Invest in Yourself

In a 2015 survey of college-educated immigrants by IMPRINT (Immigrant Professional Integration), respondents who did not speak English as a primary language – but had strong English skills – were “dramatically more likely” to have achieved professional success than those who didn’t.


“This research proves what those of us in the field of foreign accent reduction have already known – that increased English-language proficiency correlates with all measure of immigrant economic success,” said Scott.


According to the Migration Policy Institute, over 41% of Tennessee’s foreign-born workforce – and nearly half of Florida’s – hold management, science, business, sales, or office jobs: fields where a heavy foreign accent and cross-cultural miscommunication can routinely cause costly delayed projects, missed funding opportunities, and “brain waste” of skilled immigrant professionals.


But Gallup research is showing that companies are ignoring this social component of business and project management.


“That’s where Accentuate comes in, to help companies take hold of the potential their international team already possesses. Clear speech – and strategies to understand each other cross-culturally – are the missing link for effective, happy employees and increased profits for businesses.”

Scott is a featured speaker at the upcoming HR Florida Conference on Monday, August 29 with her session “Beer and Bounced Checks: Why Diversity Initiatives Can’t Stop at the Front Door.”  

The 2016 HR Florida Conference & Expo runs August 29-31 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, attracting over 1,500 human resource professionals from across the state of Florida and the world.



As a certified speech-language pathologist and CEO of Accentuate Communication, Lisa Scott is trusted with accent reduction services at several of the country’s top research labs, and has influenced a myriad of other world-class institutions in her over 25 years of experience.