According to explosive allegations from company employees, Wells Fargo routinely conducts interviews with women and people of color for jobs that have already been claimed by other candidates in order to fake diversity efforts in its hiring practices.
“You feel very uncomfortable being on the other side of that table doing an interview, and you know that candidate has a zero chance of getting the job — zero,” former Wells Fargo executive turned whistleblower, Joe Bruno, told Action News. “These are real human beings on the other side of the table. They have a family. It’s just wrong.”
According to the company’s website, Wells Fargo is “committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion by helping ensure that all people across our workforce, our communities, and our supply chain feel valued and respected and have equal access to resources, services, products, and opportunities to succeed.”
“We value and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in every aspect of our business and at every level of our organization,” the banking giant proudly proclaims.
But Bruno, along with several other employees, claims the company’s informal policy directing employers to interview “diverse” candidates is just for show.
When he brought up his concerns to his Wells Fargo superiors, Bruno, 58, says they were dismissed and, in August 2021, he was fired.
In an interview with the New York Times, Bruno said his termination was retaliation for telling his superiors the phony interviews were “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”
A total of seven current and former employees, including Bruno, have alleged they were told by either their immediate supervisors or by human resources managers in the company’s wealth management unit to interview “diverse” candidates for already-filled positions. Of the seven, five claimed they either knew of the practice or were involved in arranging it, The Times reports.
The extraordinary efforts to appear diverse, say the employees, seemed to have more to do with potential regulatory audits than with actually hiring a more inclusive, diverse workforce.
Wells Fargo spokesperson Raschelle Burton says the practice as described by the whistleblowers is not something that the company condones.
“To the extent that individual employees are engaging in the behavior as described by The New York Times, we do not tolerate it,” she stated in an emailed response.
Wells Fargo's CEO in 2020 said, "While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from."
But in 2022, they are interviewing Black people for roles they have already hired for.
It's disgusting. Full Stop https://t.co/jXCYxKO0Xd
— Nicole Tinson (@Nikki_T) May 19, 2022
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Wells Fargo said they were unable to corroborate the damning allegations.
“We researched all specific clams the reporter shared with us in advance of the story’s publication and could not corroborate the claims as factual, the company said. “At the same time, we take the nature of the allegations in the story seriously, and. as a company, we do not tolerate the type of conduct alleged. We will continue our internal review and if we find evidence of inappropriate behavior or shortcomings in our guidelines or their implementation, we will take decisive action.”
This isn’t the first time Wells Fargo’s hiring practices have been hit with claims of discrimination.
In August 2020, the company reached a $7.8 million dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, in which it agreed to pay back wages and interest after discriminating against 34,193 black applicants and 308 female applicants for banking, customer sales and service, and administrative support positions.
And in a 2017 settlement, the banking company agreed to pay $35.5 million to a group of black financial advisers who claimed they faced descrimination at the hands of Wells Fargo because of the color of their skin.
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