Sexist HSBC Valentine's Day staff promotion draws negative attention

A Valentine’s Day promotional offer for Hong Kong HSBC staff, seen to promote outdated sexist stereotypes, has placed negative attention on the company and drawn its in-house culture into question.

Reuters broke the story that an HSBC source had shared with them several images of a multi-page advertisement available on the HSBC intranet and chatroom. The advertisement reportedly offered a series of products available on special offer for staff during the Valentine's Day holiday period. The unfortunate issue is that while items listed “for him” included tech toys - such as discount laptop computers, GoPro cameras, and wireless headphones - items listed "for her" were of a domestic nature, such as vacuum cleaners, a blender and a kitchen water tap.

The understandable implication of this, that women would only be interested in household goods is, of course, not great for the optics.

Both Reuters and Marketing reached out to HSBC for comment and received the exact same official response from its spokespeople on the matter:

“The offer is from a third party source who manage their own marketing materials. HSBC is committed to gender diversity in the workplace.”

However, Marketing was also assured by its HSBC HK contact that though they were unable to reveal the identity of the marketing agency responsible, they were able to confirm that the material had since been removed from the company intranet.