Wells Fargo & Co.’s top executive created a firestorm on social media over comments that the bank has had trouble meeting its diversity goals because there isn’t enough minority talent.
Charles Scharf exasperated some Black employees this summer when he made the comments in a virtual meeting, Reuters reported, citing two people who attended.
“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 added in a June memo that was seen by Reuters.
U.S. lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined critics on Twitter condemning the statements.
Scharf apologized that his comments were misinterpreted.
“The financial industry and our company do not reflect the diversity of our population,” Scharf said in a statement the bank put out on Twitter. “We, at Wells Fargo are committed to driving change and improving diversity and inclusion.”
The CEO of the largest U.S. bank employer has pledged to double the number of Black leaders over five years and tied executive compensation to reaching diversity goals, a spokesperson told Reuters. He is also requiring hiring managers to consider diverse candidates for high-paying roles that are vacant, and ensure diversity on interview teams.
A representative in London for the San Francisco-based bank wasn’t immediately available to comment.
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