Halifax has told customers they are welcome to close their accounts if they disagree with its stance on pronoun badges for employees, following a raft of online complaints.
The bank was ridiculed on social media after it tweeted an image of one of the badges in a post which read: "Pronouns matter. #It’sapeoplething." The photograph shows a badge with the name ‘Gemma’ with pronouns ‘she/her/hers’ written beneath.
Some Twitter users took issue with the policy but the bank was quick to shut them down, urging them to withdraw their custom if they felt upset.
In its responses to critics, Halifax said the measure was brought in to prevent "accidental misgendering".
Warren Richman said: "There’s 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?"
Halifax said in response: “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.”
It later posted details of how customers can close their accounts.
Halifax added: “We want to create a safe and accepting environment that opens the conversation around gender identity. We care about our customers and colleagues’ individual preferences, for us, it’s a very simple solution to accidental misgendering.”
Some users questioned whether the policy had been enforced on staff but the bank insisted it was optional.
Juan Jeringuilla said: “I identify as somebody who does not believe that basic facts about the world change because of Gemma's feelings. I furthermore think her feelings should remain at home and are inappropriate to impose upon customers in her workplace. Can I be included in this "People thing" ?"
“Adding pronouns is completely optional. We're offering our colleagues the choice because we understand how important it is to create a safe and accepting environment that normalises the conversation around gender identity,” Halifax said.
A Halifax spokesperson said: “We want to create a safe and accepting environment that opens the conversation around gender identity. We care about our customers’ and colleagues’ individual preferences so, for us, it’s a very simple solution to accidental misgendering.”