Sexist discounts on Valentine’s Day anger HSBC staff amid gender pay gap debate

REUTERS
LONDON
Published 14.02.2019 17:30
HSBC headquarters is seen at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China September 6, 2017. (Reuters Photo)
HSBC headquarters is seen at the financial Central district in Hong Kong, China September 6, 2017. (Reuters Photo)

A Valentine's day special deal for HSBC staff in Hong Kong offering discounted laptops "for him" but vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances "for her" has angered staff over the sexist implications of the campaign.

The offer has drawn criticism from HSBC staff both in Hong Kong and in London, where it was posted in an internal chatroom, according to a source who shared images of it with Reuters.

The multi-page advertisement, described as an "HSBC Staff Offer" and apparently produced by an external company, offers discounts on a range of goods to Hong Kong workers at Europe's biggest bank.

On pages festooned with pink heart drawings, the "FOR HIM" section offers discount laptop computers as well as a GoPro camera and wireless headphones, while the "FOR HER" gifts include five different vacuum cleaners, a blender and a kitchen water tap.

"The offer is from a third party source who manage their own marketing materials. HSBC is committed to gender diversity in the workplace," a spokeswoman for the bank told Reuters.

The controversy over the sexist implications of the advertising offer comes amid a widening debate about sexism and gender pay disparity in banking and wider industry.

HSBC disclosed in December that its gender pay gap, which measures the difference between the average hourly salary of men and women, grew to 61 percent in the year to April 2018, up from 59 percent a year earlier.

The lender - which employs more than 40,000 people in Britain - had the widest gender pay gap of any large British company in 2017.

HSBC said the large gap reflected the fact there were fewer women in senior roles and more in junior ones, reflecting an industry-wide problem.

The bank said it was taking steps to bridge the gap, including targeting an increase in the ratio of women in senior management roles to 30 percent by 2020, from 23 percent today.

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