When signs started pointing to a possible repeal of the military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy, Hanscom Federal Credit Union had been thinking about ways to reinforce its long-term policy on inclusion.
Ten days after the law prohibiting gay and lesbian persons from serving in the military was abolished on Sept. 20, the $919 million credit union ran an ad in The Hansconian, a weekly newspaper for those who live and work on Hanscom Air Force Base, the Massachusetts military base where the financial institution is headquartered.
The message: “We proudly serve the military and their loved ones. Including those you can now talk about at work.”
Enacted on Dec. 21, 1993, the DADT policy prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual members or applicants but banned openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from military service.
Part of the motivation for the ad was to “highlight [Hanscom FCU’s] status within the military as an affirming organization dedicated to inclusion.”
“With the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, Hanscom FCU's members can be more open in the workplace about their personal relationships,” said Scott Post, senior vice president of strategy and delivery. “In the past, members may have been reluctant to have two names printed on their checks or take other actions that could reveal the status of their relationship.”
Post said Hanscom FCU has had staff domestic partnership policies in place for decades. For privacy and confidentiality issues, the credit union does not track how many members are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
“It’s not a demographic we would want to track. Anecdotally, we do have representation from people in same gender relationships,” Post said. “All that we’re concerned about is if you’re in our field of membership.”
Chartered in 1953, Hanscom FCU serves more than 44,000 members.
Before coming up with the final ad, Post said they looked at how people were reacting to the repeal of DADT. Other financial institutions with military ties were pretty silent, they noticed.
“No one was addressing the issue. So, we thought this would be a good opportunity to take a stand,” Post recalled.
After meeting to discuss a few ideas and what DADT repeal meant, working with Rain, Hanscom FCU's marketing firm, a creative brief and headline came together. Days later, the ad was ready to go. It was published for the first time Sept. 30 and will continue to run for the next four to six weeks. Post said the credit union is not looking at return on investment through new account openings.
So far, response to the ad has been positive, Post said, adding he didn’t hear any negative feedback after a quick survey of the Hanscom FCU office.
“People have thanked us. They think we’re doing the right thing. It was a rather forward-looking ad. Even in a state like Massachusetts, we were thinking there could be repercussions.”
Post said while the ad is subtle and not specifically targeted at any one group, people have tried to guess the genders of the hands that are featured in the image.
Prior to the repeal, there were concerns about being identified.
“The slightest slip, a career would be over or someone might lose their pension,” Post said. “We just want to remind people that now, you can’t be discharged for who you are. We wanted them to think about how that impacts their financial lives. Yes, you can open a joint checking account or get a mortgage together.”