Equality Institute

Equality Insights Blog

Gender Neutral Titles and Why They Matter

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Earlier this year, HSBC Bank made headlines by creating a policy to allow their customers to choose from a new list of honorifics when establishing or managing accounts. What are honorifics?  According to the Oxford Dictionary, an honorific is a title or word implying or expressing respect.

For example, terms like Mr., Mrs., Miss., and Ms. are all honorifics - and traditionally, as in our examples, many honorifics are gendered. When more customers are identifying somewhere under the transgender umbrella, these gendered honorifics become problematic. For example, if a new gender non-binary customer is filling out an application to open a bank account or credit card, and their only honorific/title options are traditionally gendered terms, they may feel alienated, frustrated or even leave.

HSBC doesn't want to take that risk. They now allow customers (and staff) to identify as non-binary on forms and include the following gender-neutral honorific options:

Ind (abbreviation of individual)
M
Mx (pronounced “mix” or “mux”)
Misc (for miscellaneous)
Mre (for mystery)
Msr (a mix of miss/sir)
Myr
Pr (prounced “per”, for person)
Sai (pronounced “sigh”)
Ser (pronounced “sair”).

Mx. is generally the most preferred honorific option by those who are non-binary.

This incredibly progressive move is a great model for other banks and any business which collects customer information (including health care facilities, airlines and others). What steps is your company taking to create inclusive honorifics?