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In January 2015, HSBC was faced with a challenging internal environment in the wake of the Swiss Leaks coverage. Our team, which sits within the Employee Insight & Communications function, recognised an urgent business need to reassure employees that their personal values were also the values of HSBC and re-instil pride within the organisation. We knew a traditional top-down communications campaign wasn’t going to be effective with a global workforce which is diverse in terms of language, culture and lifestyle, 57% of which are either millenials or generation Z who routinely share content through social media and turn naturally to channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for information and social insight.

Going beyond company values

We decided to launch a values campaign with a difference: led entirely by employees themselves and enabling them the opportunity to talk about their own personal values. We embarked upon an ambitious filming project that aimed to capture the true essence of what it means to work at HSBC. The creative idea was to produce a mini documentary – entirely crowd-sourced from employees all over the world – to show from sunrise to sunset, the moments, people and places which motivate them to be at their best. The aim was to demonstrate what it’s really like to work at a bank that never sleeps, told through the unique lens of the people who keep the organisation running 24:7.

For a conservative organisation the scale and complexity of HSBC operating in a highly regulated sector, the challenges of such a campaign would be considerable – technical, legal, cultural and creative. At the outset, we realised we lacked the means by which to gather large volumes of video from up to a quarter of a million people across 71 countries safely into bank systems. We needed a video crowdsourcing tool but didn’t have the time to build this internally, and so we sourced a London-based start-up who were at the early stages of developing a mobile video app we felt we could build upon.

The app needed to be entirely secure, leak and hacker proof; it needed to be branded HSBC for the organisation to trust it and it required a degree of bespoke functionality to ensure that access was only available to HSBC employees. Most importantly, we needed the legal rights to publish employee content and we had to make it compliant with our internal controls. For example, the use of personal mobile phones are prohibited in many of our branches and call centres, so we had to lobby for dispensations in certain markets to enable its use. We named the app HSBC NOW Share to support our internal award-winning TV series, and created 6 different language-versions to make it accessible across our key territories.

Our People, Our Story

The final film, Our People, Our Story, was produced from over 57 hours’ worth of authentic user generated content amassed during the course of the campaign. It proved a huge success with our global workforce, reaching 25% of the global workforce within the first week of broadcast (and two thirds to date) and has inspired thousands of positive comments from employees across the globe, who all said the same thing: it gave them a sense of belonging and made them feel proud to work for HSBC. A shorter version of the film was edited for external use and put on the HSBC YouTube channel and supported by a social media campaign on Twitter.

Our People, Our Story is also shown to all new recruits at HSBC’s new-joiner Discovery event and is considered a genuine portrayal of HSBC’s people and values today.


The overall strategy was to reinforce the values of employees globally through an approach which gave real insight into the lives of our people all over the world, and expressed how they felt about HSBC. The film was the core of the campaign; we built outwards from this to engage a wider group of stakeholders. The app was a means to an end – to engage staff in an employee-led filming project – but the decision to develop it was also influenced by HSBC’s commitment to giving employees a voice and to developing communications tools and platforms which meet the demands of a diverse and geographically disparate organisation.

Jenny Varley

Global Head of Content & Employee Digital Platforms
Jenny Varley is the Global Head of Content & Employee Digital Platforms at HSBC.

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