“I got a Black person on the other side of the table who has no shot at getting the job” – Jon Bruno, a former Wells Fargo executive.
Wells Fargo allegedly conducted sham interviews in the name of diversity across several departments, including the wealth management division, mortgage servicing, home lending and retail banking operations. Jon Bruno, a former executive at Wells Fargo, was one of seven former Wells Fargo employees in the wealth management division that were instructed to interview “diverse” candidates—a catchall for women and racial minorities— for a position that had already been promised to someone else.
How Wells Fargo’s Policy to Hire More Diverse Candidates Turned into Fake Interviews
In June 2020, Charles W. Schwarf, Wells Fargo CEO stated that the company was committed to hiring more diverse candidates. This led to a formal “diverse slate” hiring policy requiring that at least half of the candidates interviewed for open jobs with a salary over $100,000.00 be diverse.
Per a New York Times article, former employees said that the interviews of diverse candidates were more about Wells Fargo’s image as an inclusive employer, rather than about hiring more women and people of color. Mr. Bruno called the deceptive interviews “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong.” Former employees allege that the diversity policy was created in anticipation of regulatory audits from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is the nation’s largest regulatory body for banking.
Linda Friedman, a lawyer involved in a racial discrimination case against Wells Fargo, stated that diversity policies are created with good intentions, “but when they hit the ground [at Wells Fargo] the energy was devoted not to implementing them but finding a way to get around them.”
In early June, Mr. Schwarf told Wells Fargo employees that the “diverse slate” hiring policy would be suspended for several weeks so the company could reevaluate if it is working as intended. A few days later, Federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s new civil rights unit announced an investigation into Wells Fargo’s allegedly sham hiring process.
Wells Fargo: A Reputation of Racial Discrimination
- In 2017, Wells Fargo paid over $35 million to a group of Black financial advisers after they accused the bank of forcing them into poor neighborhoods and preventing them from winning new clients and working with white financial advisors.
- In August 2020, Wells Fargo was required to pay almost $8 million after the Department of Labor accused the banking giant of discriminating against more than 30,000 Black job applicants.
- In 2021, a lawsuit alleged that Wells Fargo approved more white borrowers for a mortgage loan compared to Black borrowers. It also claimed that Black clients, even ones with high credit scores, were given interest rates higher than white clients.
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