- Back in 2014, Wells Fargo held a two-day ethics workshop with the message that creating fake bank accounts in the name of unsuspecting clients was unacceptable. Apparently, it made little difference, according to the New York Times.
- The banking giant also consistently sent out notices that the activity was not condoned, even hiring added "risk professionals" to try and halt the illegal activity, the Times reports.
- Now, with revelations that the practice continued unabated (and 5,300 employees being fired as a result), some of those ex-workers told the Times that the reason for ignoring corporate requests came down to one thing: stressful, very high sales goals that instilled a "meet the quota or lose your job mindset" among workers, according to the Times.
Even with the recent $185 million settlement, Wells Fargo senior management denied that the existing incentive structure caused the bad behavior. While senior management did some of the right things to try and curtail the behavior, they were not strong enough to counterbalance the company's win at all costs sales culture.
The Wells Fargo scenario is especially vexing when you take into account how compliance has become such a major issue for HR leaders and departments nationwide over the past few years. There are some experts who believe the HR-compliance link is not strong enough, and the Wells Fargo scandal may be considered the poster child for that lack of connectivity.
At its core, the Wells Fargo scandal is an issue with company culture and depiction of values. Enforcing strict sales goals while trying to instill a culture of careful compliance creates a schism that managers are expected to bridge — often unsuccessfully.