CEO Charlie Scharf's comments were instantly met with a backlash, with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting "Perhaps it’s the CEO of Wells Fargo who lacks the talent to recruit Black workers."
Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf recently blamed a lack of racial diversity within the bank's management on "a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from." As one would assume, he was the target of much-ensuing backlash. He has since apologized for his statements. In a memo addressed to the company's employees, he said sorry for what was "an insensitive comment" that only reflected his own unconscious bias. The CEO added that Wells Fargo must undoubtedly do more in order to make "meaningful progress" with regard to increasing representation within the workplace and financial services industry, CNN reports.
"There are many talented diverse individuals working at Wells Fargo (WFC) and throughout the financial services industry and I never meant to imply otherwise," Scharf affirmed in his memo. "It's clear to me that, across the industry, we have not done enough to improve diversity, especially at senior leadership levels. And there is no question Wells Fargo has to make meaningful progress to increase diverse representation." His original comments were made in a different memo from the month of June. The memo was sent out following the murder of George Floyd. In it, he called for greater diversity in corporate offices as a means to address systemic racism.
Though he reiterated the need for "diverse representation on [the firm's] operating committee," he went on to state that "the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from." Scharf continued in the memo, "Our progress will not be a straight line given the experience required in some of our roles, but I would ask that you judge our progress two years into my tenure as CEO." Among those to criticize his comments was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic House Representative for New York. She chided in a tweet, "Perhaps it’s the CEO of Wells Fargo who lacks the talent to recruit Black workers."
Scharf was recruited as the CEO of Wells Fargo in order to "clean up a bevy of problems" at the company a year ago. He most notably was responsible for a $3 billion settlement with regulators to close the books on the bank's civil and criminal liability in a fake-accounts scandal that went public four years ago. Regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the CEO has "committed that this time must be different." He added that he was "encouraged" by the early progress of Wells Fargo when it comes to addressing the need for more diverse management ranks.