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On 23rd of May HSBC tweeted a clip showing Jamie Windust talking about how being too much is actually just enough. In a now deleted tweet HSBC UK said: "One thing I want you to know is that you are never too much." We couldn’t be prouder to share this story"
The tweet was questioned immediately, prompting people to ask about drug cartels laundering money and what on earth any of this had to do with banking. HSBC's social media managers did their best to reply.
Jamie, the non-binary model who was in the HSBC clip and is known for demanding gender-neutral markers in British passports and quitting a job as an extra on "Fantastic Beasts and where to find them" because "for the whole duration of the filming process we were cast and sectioned into 'male and female' groups"
While HSBC deleted the tweet featuring Jamie, they still have other clips from their LGBT pride campaign up, such this one featuring a "Muslim and LGBT" person wearing a rainbow coloured sari.
Despite the usual troll responses on Twitter, a few like the one at the beginning of this article questioned what Pride has to do with banking. My cynical answer is money. Whatever they can do to get more money, they will. Including jumping gon whatever cause du jour, no matter the relevance. I'll go even further by suggesting HSBC is using people like Windust as a shiny object to change the PR perception and distract from their controversial business practices. Consider the following:
In 2012, HSBC was forced to pay 1.9 billion in fines for a money-laundering scheme after it a U.S. Senate investigation found "the UK-based bank had been a conduit for "drug kingpins and rogue nations."
In 2015, it was reported HSBC allowed clients to dodge millions in taxes via offshore accounts.
In 2016, according to The Guardian, the FBI arrested senior HSBC banker Mark Johnson, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange trading, and a colleague is accused of “defrauding clients” and alleged to have “corruptly manipulated the foreign exchange market to benefit themselves and their bank.”
Over the years, these penalties arising from tax-related issues around the world would be at least $800 million." Add to this news the reports HSBC's profits fell short of analyst forecasts late last year, and they are in need of some brand rebuilding.
But the message is pandering and ringing hollow among an audience is all too familiar with HSBC's unethical behaviour. Were the dirty laundry kept under wraps it might have worked a slightly better? But there's been a decade's worth of negative publicity in the part that actually matters: the crimes HSBC committed and all the money clients lost. You can't wave a fabulously woke hand and undo that. It's nice for non-binary that they can get a bank account and mark an x next to however they wish to identify this year. But you're still making a deal with the devil, and you're foolish to overlook it just because they're pandering to your pet cause.