" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> EXCLUSIVE: HSBC Leading The Path To Inclusivity With Gender Neutral Banking
Sunday, May 26, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: HSBC Leading The Path To Inclusivity With Gender Neutral Banking

In recent times, the concept of gender and how we, as a society, approach it, has been redefined to be more inclusive. Whilst some institutions have not yet made the transition in their traditional models to be more representative, HSBC Holdings Plc’s UK unit is the most recent financial institution to do so.

Recently, the company announced it would no longer collect information/data on the gender of its customers for some of its products, including HSBC Kinetic, a mobile-first banking business account and its tool for mortgages in principle. This is part of an effort to become much more inclusive towards non-binary and trans people, according to Bloomberg news.

In speaking with Bloomberg, Jimmy Higgins, HSBC UK Pride Employee Network Co-Chair, was quoted as saying “there is no reason we should be capturing information for a bank account or a loan if it’s not relevant.”

Although a slightly different subject, I always commend HSBC’s initiative in subjects like these. For instance, I was extremely impressed with how the organisation looked to reorder their financial services so that they were usable for blind people, furthering the concept of digital accessibility.

When you turn your head towards the statistics, there is clear evidence exemplifying the biases and gender discrimination inherent in banking models and legacy systems employed for decades that justify the decision to be more gender-neutral. There have been strong criticisms that women are made to find it much more difficult to access credit compared to men. In fact, Credit Karma revealed last year that women pay £16,913 more than men to borrow over a lifetime. And even more overtly, researchers found that 90% of transgender Canadians have been made to use an ID with a name or gender not matching their presentation. This can result in feelings of anxiousness (48%), embarrassment (45%) and frustration (42%). In addition, 43% have been verbally harassed because they identify as transgender.

Despite tensions stoking from certain demographics in society against the notion of inclusivity, banks are still making their stand. For example, Halifax received some backlash over Twitter when they posted simply that “Pronouns matter”, showing a name badge for “Gemma (she/her/hers)”. However, it’s important to stand strong against hatred, otherwise the whole message is completely devalued.

Nearly a year and a half ago, Citi seemed to lead the charge in this fight with the launch of its “True Name” feature with Mastercard across the U.S. This venture allowed transgender and non-binary people to use their chosen name on eligible credit cards. Customers were also able to be serviced by their chosen name when calling into customer services, and/or across online and mobile access points. This showed how the group were committed to truly instigating practical change, instead of just offering a superficial reality. That is not to say all the work is done, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Heading over to Canada, we saw The Bank of Montreal, BMO, made a similar move too. The group became the first financial institution in Canada to implement the “True Name” feature by Mastercard. It is comforting to note how the effort is global, spanning across different continents.

Not only is this a basic humanitarian commitment, but organisations who make a clear and inclusive statement on LGBT+ inclusion will be those who build a better connection with their customers, and their employees too. Since trust is the currency of the future and is essential to all other verticals, organisations here can do the right thing and have everybody benefit from the service.

More still needs to be done but, hopefully, more will be.

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