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Pronoun badges backfire for embarrassed banks

Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Pride month means only one thing: the chance for corporations to embarrass themselves with the latest right-on social media stunt. This year it was the turn of Halifax, which took to Twitter last week to declare that ‘Pronouns matter’ alongside an image of its new-style staff name badge, featuring the words ‘she/her/hers’ underneath. Other banks quickly piled in, with HSBC heralding this ‘positive step forward for equality and inclusion’ as ‘it’s vital that everyone can be themselves in the workplace.’

HSBC not only publicly backed the draconian National Security Law but also froze the bank accounts of prominent pro-democracy activists in exile at the behest of Beijing

Unfortunately though, it seems that these citadels of capital forgot to ask one crucial stakeholder group in all of this: the customer. Halifax account-holders – many of whom are no-nonsense Yorkshire types –  don’t take too kindly to being lectured by banks, those paragons of virtue. Since Halifax’s statement, the bank is facing a reported ‘mass exodus’ of customers, with some cutting up their credit cards. Others are lodging complaints about Halifax’s social media manager who, when customers accused the bank of ‘virtue-signalling’, told them: ‘If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account.’

Many are now, er, doing exactly that. The Daily Mail reports that more than 150 social media users said they would boycott the former building society. One account holder claimed to have already pulled out investments and savings worth £450,000 while many more said they are closing ISAs. To add insult to injury was the criticism of the bank’s former employee Howard Brown, who became a household name as the face of Halifax for over a decade. He branded the bank’s attitude towards customers ‘disgraceful’, saying:

That’s not the Halifax I knew, that’s not the customer service I knew.

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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