A former Wells Fargo wealth management executive has accused the bank of holding fake interviews with black and female candidates, having already filled the positions with other applicants, The New York Times reported earlier this month.
Joe Bruno, 58, says that he was instructed to interview minority candidates for lower-paying (under $100,000 per year) financial advisor and financial consultant positions while knowing that the process was just for show. He was fired after refusing to conduct the interviews and reporting the practice to his superiors.
“I got a black person on the other side of the table who has no shot at getting the job,” Bruno told the Times.
Six other current and former Wells Fargo employees have reported that their bosses directed them to conduct such interviews with black and women candidates after they or their superiors had already selected people for the jobs. Five additional Wells Fargo employees said that they were aware of the sham interviews or helped arrange them, the Times reported.
Following the George Floyd murder in 2020, Chief Executive Officer Charles W. Scharafter vowed to increase diversity at the bank, establishing a formal policy of interviewing minority prospects for open positions with salaries greater than $100,000.
The bank has disputed the claims. “To the extent that individual employees are engaging in the behavior as described by The New York Times, we do not tolerate it,” said Spokeswoman Raschelle Burton in an emailed statement to the paper.
Wells Fargo has come under legal fire – and has paid – for its poor performance regarding diversity issues. It settled with the U.S. Department of Labor for allegedly discriminating against more than 30,000 black job applicants, paying $8 million in August 2020. In 2017, it settled a $36 million racial discrimination class-action suit after 320 black financial advisors claimed they were held back from winning new clients or partnering with white financial advisors.