Posted on September 23, 2020

Wells Fargo CEO Angers Black Staff During Zoom Where ‘He Claimed the Bank Struggled to Reach Diversity Goals Because There Was Not Enough Qualified Minority Talent’

Rachel Sharp and Reuters, Daily Mail, September 22, 2020

The┬áCEO of America’s biggest bank employer has angered staff after saying the bank has trouble reaching diversity goals because there is not enough qualified minority talent.

Wells Fargo Chief Executive Charles Scharf defended the company’s record on diversity in a Zoom call over the summer and shifted the blame to a lack of black talent in the industry, according to two employees who were on the call.

Scharf also made the claims in a company-wide memo on June 18 that announced the bank’s diversity initiatives.

His comments come as companies face mounting calls to improve the diversity of their organizational make-up amid nationwide protests demanding an end to systemic racism {snip}

The two staff members said attendees on the call were offended by Scharf’s comments and dismissed his claims of a lack of black talent.

‘I can get them 10 to 15 resumes today,’ one of the employees said.

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The memo, seen by Reuters, also reinforced the stance of the top boss.

‘While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from,’ Scharf said in the memo.

Black senior executives across corporate America hit back at Scharf’s comments saying the excuse is a major reason why companies have struggled to add enough racial and ethnic diversity to their leadership ranks.

‘There is an amazing amount of Black talent out there,’ said Ken Bacon, a former mortgage industry executive who is on the boards of Comcast Corp, Ally Financial Inc and Welltower Inc.

‘If people say they can’t find the talent, they either aren’t looking hard enough or don’t want to find it.’

Bacon said he was ‘shocked and puzzled’ by Scharf’s comments.

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Wells Fargo defended the CEO and pointed to the diversity efforts that have happened under his watch.

The bank has pledged to double the number of black leaders at the firm over five years and has tied executive compensation to reaching diversity goals.

Scharf is also requiring hiring managers to consider diverse candidates for high-paying roles that are vacant and ensure diversity on interview teams.

Wells Fargo’s latest proxy disclosed more diversity data than those of many other companies, with two of 12 directors black and one Latino or Hispanic.

Scharf ‘is committed to deep and systemic change to increase diversity and has held several forums where there has been candid conversation and unfiltered feedback,’ Wells Fargo spokeswoman Beth Richek said in a statement.

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