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Posted under: News Business

Wells Fargo CEO Apologizes After Blaming Lack Of Company Diversity On A ‘Limited Pool Of Black Talent’

The CEO has promised to double the number of Black people in leadership and is dedicating more resources to greater compensation packages for diverse leaders.

Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf apologized this week for insensitive comments he made about the bank’s efforts to hire Black talent.

On June 18, Scharf sent a memo announcing new diversity initiatives, proclaiming the bank wasn’t reaching its diversity goals because of a “limited pool” of Black talent, according to NBC News.

Earlier this summer, Scharf echoed similar sentiments on a Zoom call, two participants told Reuters.

"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.

On Wednesday, the Wells Fargo official issued a statement, saying that he regretted undermining Black employees that help run the financial institution.

“There are many talented diverse individuals working at Wells Fargo and throughout the financial services industry and I never meant to imply otherwise,” Scharf said.

“Across the industry, we have not done enough to improve diversity, especially at senior leadership levels,” he added.

Scharf has pledged to double the number of Black people in leadership positions over the next five years and said executive compensation packages are components of reaching diversity goals, per Reuters.

However, several Black senior executives across the industry said they are frustrated by claims of a dearth of Black talent and called it a cop-out that companies use to mask their inefficiencies doing the work necessary to land diverse talent.

"There is an amazing amount of Black talent out there," Ken Bacon, a former mortgage industry executive currently on the Comcast Corp. Board, said. "If people say they can't find the talent, they either aren't looking hard enough or don't want to find it."


This week, people took to Twitter to denounce the bank official’s claim.

“Perhaps it’s the CEO of Wells Fargo who lacks the talent to recruit Black workers,” U.S. Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet.


CNN contributor and political writer Keith Boykin blasted Scharf for deficiencies in his role, denoting how the company’s stock has dropped during the CEO’s tenure.

"Since Charlie Scharf took over as CEO of @WellsFargo on October 21, 2019, the company's stock value dropped from $50.46 to $23.65, a 53% decline," he tweeted. 

According to Reuters, Wells Fargo has added two Black executives since Scharf started working in his position less than a year ago. As an industry, just 7.3% of the five highest-paid executives at financial companies in the Russell 3000 were racial minorities, NBC reports.

“There is no question Wells Fargo has to make meaningful progress to increase diverse representation,” Scharf said.

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