The CEO of Wells Fargo claims the company is struggling to meet its diversity goals due to a lack of Black talent to pool from.
Chief Executive Charles Scharf made the comments during a Zoom meeting this summer. He also reiterated the assertion in a company-wide memo about diversity initiatives on June 18, per NBC News.
“While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from,” Scharf said in the memo.
A couple of Black staffers were reportedly on the 90-minute call. It is unclear if they were the ones who spoke out on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation, according to the report. Several attendees were said to be offended by Scharf’s remarks, but some were unfazed.
“The meeting was incredibly constructive… I walked away being incredibly surprised at how genuine and sincere he is,” said Alex David, president of the Black/African American Connection Team Member Network.
Meanwhile, several Black senior executives have rebuked claims of a talent shortage among Black candidates.
“There is an amazing amount of Black talent out there,” said Ken Bacon, who is on the boards of Comcast Corp, Ally Financial Inc and Welltower Inc. “If people say they can’t find the talent, they either aren’t looking hard enough or don’t want to find it.”
Bacon said he was “shocked and puzzled” by Scharf’s comments.
Following nationwide protests over the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Foyd, Wells Fargo & Co. announced new diversity initiatives, with a commitment to hiring managers who will consider candidates of color for high-paying vacant positions.
Meanwhile, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Beth Richek defended Scharf’s record on diversity.
Scharf “is committed to deep and systemic change to increase diversity and has held several forums where there has been candid conversation and unfiltered feedback,” Richek said in a statement.
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