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British bank Halifax sees exodus after saying customers can leave if they disagree with new gender pronoun badge

Customers of British bank Halifax are leaving in droves after a social media manager on Twitter said anyone who disagreed with their new gender pronoun badges is “welcome to close your account.”

Customers of British bank Halifax are leaving after a controversial tweet about new gender identity badges
Customers of British bank Halifax are leaving after a controversial tweet about new gender identity badges | Shutterstock

July 5, 2022 1:07pm

Updated: July 5, 2022 4:22pm

Customers of British bank Halifax are leaving in droves after a social media manager on Twitter said anyone who disagreed with their new gender pronoun badges is “welcome to close your account.”

One account holder told the Daily Mail that he and his family have pulled £450,000 ($545,000) worth of investments and savings, and many others on social media have declared they are closing their individual savings accounts over the hostile behavior and virtue signaling.

The tinder for this social media wildfire was a Twitter post by Halifax on Thursday announcing it would now allow staff to display their pronouns on their name badges.

“Pronouns matter,” the tweet proclaimed, with a picture of a female staff member’s name badge featuring “she/her/hers” in brackets under her name, Gemma.

One user replied that there was “no ambiguity about the name ‘Gemma.’”

“It’s a female person’s name. In other words, it’s pathetic virtue signalling and is seen as such by almost everyone who has responded to the initial tweet. Why are you trying to alienate people?,” @WarrenRichman tweeted.

A Halifax rep named “AndyM” responded, ”We strive for inclusion, equality and quite simply, in doing what’s right. If you disagree with our values, you’re welcome to close your account.”

The terse dismissal sparked fury on social media, with some asking why a bank was actively turning away paying customers.

“As a Halifax customer for over 35 years I really don't care what a name badge says, but why is a Halifax employee telling people to close accounts because they disagree with the name badges,” @Stephenlovelif1 asked in a reply to AndyM.

Others said they would take AndyM up on his offer and withdraw their money from Halifax.

“My wife and I have followed this advice, partly due to Halifax's current virtue signalling but mostly the eagerness of AndyM to lose customers,” @miketommo99 tweeted, saying that he moved his mortgage, cancelled his cards and closed his deposit account.

Marketing and business experts were also baffled by the move.

The weekend following the pronoun post, BBC Radio 4 financial commentator Matthew Lynn warned: “Companies don't need to aggressively take positions on what are still quite divisive social issues. It probably didn't come from the CEO – it comes from a bunch of millennial 20-somethings running the Twitter feed.”

“To tell customers that they should go and close down their accounts and go to a different bank because they have a slightly different view on this is way too aggressive.”

Branding expert Michael Townsend told LBC that AndyM’s dismissive reply was an “astonishing” mistake that will be considered one of the biggest PR blunders in recent history.

“It's astonishing that they do something to make themselves look right on and virtue signalling - and they end up looking like the most old fashioned bullies, telling them: ‘If you don't like it you're welcome to leave.’ It's extraordinary. Who treats their customers like that? I've never heard of a company inviting their customers to go. How is that inclusive?” he said during a radio segment.

The Mail noted that other British banks – Natwest, Nationwide and HSBV – also have optional pronoun policies for badges.

But HSBC chimed in by retweeting the original Halifax statement, “'We stand with and support any bank or organisation that joins us in taking this positive step forward for equality and inclusion. It's vital that everyone can be themselves in the workplace.”

The Spectator said HSBC’s decision led to Twitter users learning about its role aiding China’s crackdown on Hong Kong, which gave it little ground to stand on regarding human rights.