Six current and former employees of Wells Fargo & Co.’s large wealth management unit said they were encouraged to interview women and African Americans for previously filled jobs, in a bid to boost diversity efforts of the bank, The New York Times reported on Friday. .
The newspaper’s print report, “Bank’s Effort On Diversity Just on Paper,” focuses on Joe Bruno, a longtime Wells Fargo WFC,
employee who was fired by the bank last summer.
Wells Fargo fired him because he criticized his bosses for promoting inappropriate, morally and ethically wrong “fake” interviews, Bruno told the newspaper.
Wells Fargo said Bruno was fired for allegedly retaliating against an employee, but no additional details were provided in the article.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Raschelle Burton told the newspaper that supervisors are required to follow hiring policies and guidelines that are communicated throughout the company.
“To the extent that individual employees engage in the behavior described by The New York Times, we do not condone it,” Burton told the newspaper.
While the bank has made informal requests to supervisors to hire various candidates, the practice predates the company’s current management after chief executive Charlie Scharf took over the bank in 2019 and brought in many new executives in 2020. as the bank was reeling from $4.5 billion. fines stemming from a fraudulent accounts scandal, spokesperson Burton said.
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In the years after a 2013 discrimination class action lawsuit by black financial advisers, Burton said Wells Fargo began requiring that at least one woman or person of color be interviewed for every job vacancy, though the policy only applied to positions offering salaries over $100,000. .
The bank ended up paying $36 million in 2017 to settle the class action lawsuit brought by 320 black financial advisers.
Wells Fargo’s interview policy closely resembled the National Football League’s Rooney Rule, which is named after former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and required non-white applicants to be interviewed for major jobs, such as head coach and general manager. The policy prompted a lawsuit by black coaches against the NFL earlier this year. The NFL has since introduced new hiring rules.
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In response to Bruno’s allegations, Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management CEO Barry Sommers told the newspaper that mock interviews would not have been necessary under previous policies because candidates hired by Bruno reportedly earned less than $100,000.
“There’s absolutely no reason for anyone to be conducting a fake interview,” Sommers told the newspaper.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Raschelle Burton said 77% of the bank’s 26,000 hires in 2020 were non-white men. In 2021, about 81% of the 30,000 people hired were non-white men.
Tony Thorpe, who retired from Wells Fargo in 2019, said he was commissioned to document that he tried to find a diverse pool of candidates, said he did not conduct any fake interviews.
But Bruno and five other current and former employees said fake interviews took place for various positions. Three people working at Wells Fargo have now said they heard about fake interviews just this year.
Don Banks, an African-American wealth manager in Monroe, Louisiana, was contacted by Wells Fargo in 2016 and 2017 and was hired in 2018, only to be fired in 2020 during the pandemic. A bank employee told the newspaper that Banks was subjected to fake interviews before he was finally hired.