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Hong Kong Telecom issues apology after offering HSBC female staff a chance to buy vacuums

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

February 18, 2019 | 3 min read

Hong Kong Telecom (HKT) has come under fire for a lack of gender equality after offering discounts for vacuum cleaners to women working at HSBC in Hong Kong and London in an ad.

The ad was part of the telco’s Valentine Day’s promotions and was served to HSBC staff through its intranet. For men, the ad encouraged them to buy technology products like laptops, while women were offered vacuum cleaners and a blender.

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HKT apologised after HSBC staff members in Hong Kong and London criticised the ad.

HKT apologised after HSBC staff members in Hong Kong and London criticised the ad.

According to Reuters, a HKT spokesman said: “We have heard the feedback and offer our heartfelt apologies for any offence caused.”

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“We firmly believe in gender equality in both the workplace and in life, and we are committed to ensuring that we, and our business partners, exercise prudence, respect and inclusion for all.”

HSBC was quick to defend itself, saying the offer is from a third-party source who managed their own marketing materials. “HSBC is committed to gender diversity in the workplace,” said a spokeswoman.

A study by Kantar recently found most marketers in the Asia Pacific believe that they are doing a good job of creating advertising that avoids gender stereotypes, but consumers disagree.

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