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In a well-intentioned initiative gone wrong, current and former employees at Wells Fargo have come forward with details on how the bank carried out its diversity and inclusion efforts: fake interviews.
Joe Bruno, a former executive at Wells Fargo, is one of seven individuals who have spoken up about a troubling system wherein they were instructed by direct bosses or HR managers to hold interviews for “diverse” candidates — which the bank defined as women and people of color — for positions that had already been filled.
The individuals who have spoken out were either told to give the interviews, aware of the practice or helped arrange it. The practice seemed to be a vehicle to record diversity efforts on paper, rather than carrying them out in reality.
Bruno, who has since been fired from the bank, told The New York Times that he shared his concerns about the system with his superiors, stating that the practice was “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong.”
Wells Fargo claims that Bruno’s dismissal was due to him retaliating against a colleague, but the former executive begs to differ, certain that his discharge was a direct result of flagging the diversity initiative of granting fake interviews.
Raschelle Burton, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, said “To the extent that individual employees are engaging in the behavior as described by The New York Times, we do not tolerate it,” in a statement.
Burton shared that although she was aware of the informal policy, it was implemented in an earlier era that current executives have nothing to do with.
Back in 2020, Wells Fargo chief executive Charles W. Scharf pledged to expand inclusion efforts, but he added that the bank had trouble meeting diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent. He later apologized for the statement that angered employees and outsiders alike — after it became public.
According to Burton, 77% of those hired at Wells Fargo in 2020 were not white men, and 81% of those hired in 2021 were not white men, but she failed to disclose how many of the roles pay more than $100,000 per year — reiterating previous claims by current and former employees that minority candidates were hired for low-paying roles and interviewed for positions that had already been filled.
The troubling system carried out by Wells Fargo highlights what can go wrong when well-intentioned initiatives lack transparency, thus creating pathways to get around the initiative, rather than carrying it out as intended.
Three current employees said they conducted fake job interviews or knew of them as recently as this year.