Argos shoppers and staff accuse retailer of ‘pink washing’ over lack of gender-neutral ‘Mx’ option
Sainsbury’s Argos brand has been criticised for not including gender-neutral options online, with almost 12,000 people signing a petition in protest.
Argos has previously told customers it will add an “Mx” option to the title section of the catalogue retailers’ online forms. Supermarket Sainsbury’s already offers Mx on its forms.
However, the retailer has since faced calls to provide a timeline and to “commit more resources” to making these changes at Argos.
An open letter to the Sainsbury’s board, including chair Martin Scicluna and chief executive officer Simon Roberts, also asked for an apology for the slow pace of implementation.
“You incorporated the Pride flag in your brand logo in June 2022, while continuing to exclude non-binary people from your services,” the letter stated. It accused bosses of “pink washing,” when LGBTQIA+ inclusivity is motioned without practical actions.
Tom Pashby, who organised the letter and runs campaign group Include Mx, said it had received more than 175 signatures, while a Change.org petition had also received around 11,800 signatures.
“[The Mx option] seems like a small change, but it’s really significant for people like me,” Pashby told CityA.M.
“Like many online providers, Argos require you to select a title, but they only allow Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms or Dr. None of these are suitable for people looking for a gender-neutral title – unless you have a PhD,” they said.
Campaigners had been asking Argos for the change for around 11 years, Pashby said. “It’s really disappointing that Argos have taken so long to even respond properly, let alone make the change.”
“I think the whole retail industry needs to do more work to educate themselves on LGBTQIA+ inclusivity,” they added.
Argos said it acknowledged that it must “go further” by offering customers and staff more gender inclusive options.
Some colleagues and customers had asked for a gender-neutral title when working and shopping with Sainsbury’s, a spokesperson acknowledged, explaining it wanted to be “an inclusive retailer where everyone feels welcome.”
“We have listened to this feedback and added Mx as an option on our Groceries Online service and colleague HR system,” a spokesperson said. “But we know we need to go further and we want to offer this across our entire business.”
However, the retailer said that while it wished that the process was “quick and simple,” it would take time.
“Unfortunately it involves updating a range of different and complex systems, so we’re asking our customers and colleagues to bear with us while this is worked through,” the spokesperson added.
Argos is not the only high street business to pledge more inclusive gender options to customers, with Halifax Bank recently giving staff the option to include pronouns on name badges.