- Wells Fargo is reinstating its “diverse slate” hiring policy after pausing it for several weeks of review, the bank said Monday. The pause came amid allegations in May from about a dozen current and former employees that the bank held phony job interviews for non-White and female job-seekers for positions that had already been offered to other candidates.
- Half of candidates for certain positions will continue to be diverse, the bank said in a press release Monday, though that proportion may “evolve” as representation improves.
- In a change to the policy, the bank will apply its diverse-candidate requirement to roles based on job level rather than compensation. The previous iteration of the policy required that diverse candidates make up half the field for positions paying $100,000 a year or more. The bank did not indicate which job levels would be affected.
Wells Fargo defended its 2020 diverse slate policy Monday by citing its own hiring statistics. External hiring volume in the bank’s U.S. roles increased 17% in 2021, compared with 2020, Wells Fargo said. At the same time, the bank’s external hiring of candidates from “underrepresented racial and ethnic groups” increased 27% — meaning diverse hiring outpaced hiring overall by 10 percentage points. During the same period, external hiring of women for U.S roles at the bank increased 23%, six percentage points ahead of hiring overall, Wells Fargo said.
“We began this exercise knowing that diverse candidate slates work, and that they are a common, good practice across multiple industries,” Bei Ling, Wells Fargo’s chief human resources officer, said in Monday’s press release. “Our review helped us to identify opportunities where we can further improve how the guidelines are implemented.”
In another change announced Monday, Wells Fargo said it would revise the process for approving exceptions to the diverse slate policy — “to provide for manager and recruiter review … and ongoing monitoring.”
The updated hiring guidelines will take effect Aug. 19, Wells Fargo said.
Over its nearly two-month policy pause, Wells Fargo interviewed recruiters and hiring managers “to determine what’s working and what’s not,” the bank said, adding it has held listening sessions since mid-May with a broader set of employees.
“Overwhelmingly, we heard the need to improve the candidate and manager experience and the need for a stronger and longer-term commitment and investment to help employees develop their skills and grow their careers,” the bank said in a separate memo seen by The New York Times.
Among other feedback, executives found the bank’s guidelines and processes, at times, “overly prescriptive,” the bank said in the memo.
Wells Fargo said it plans to provide updated training for recruiters and managers on the hiring guidelines, including how they should be applied. The bank also pledged to continue to hold senior leaders accountable for making progress on diverse representation. The bank, in June 2020, said it would aim to double Black leadership by 2025 and tie operating committee members’ diversity efforts to their compensation.
In a June letter to employees, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said the bank would “make adjustments” to the bank’s diverse slate hiring policy “where appropriate.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, in a May letter to Scharf, called out the bank’s hiring practices — along with continued racial disparity in mortgage refinancing and recent anti-money laundering violations — among “weaknesses” the bank needs to fix “once and for all.”