People are calling for a boycott of Wells Fargo after CEO blames ‘very limited pool of Black talent’ for the bank’s trouble hitting its diverse hiring goals

Charlie Scharf, the chief executive of Wells Fargo, was appointed to his post in late 2019. Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images
  • A call to boycott Wells Fargo is trending on Twitter in the wake of news that the bank’s CEO claimed that efforts to hire minority talent were stymied by a “very limited pool of black talent to recruit from.”
  • He made similar a remark during a Zoom call over the summer, which bothered some employees at the bank, according to Reuters.
  • Lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also took to Twitter to criticise the CEO’s statement.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

People have begun to call for a boycott of Wells Fargo after it was revealed that the bank’s CEO claimed multiple times that the bank’s difficulty in hiring diverse employees was due to a lack of qualified Black talent.

“While it might sound like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from,” Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo CEO, wrote in a June memo to employees, Reuters first reported. Scharf also repeated this claim in a Zoom meeting over the summer, and the comments bothered some of the bank’s employees, Reuters said.

In response, people took to Twitter to slam the reported comments and encourage others to close their accounts with Wells Fargo.

“I had a savings account with @WellsFargo,” tweeted Jasmine Brown, CEO of startup GoodrCo. “I just closed it during my lunch break. I’m so done with companies disrespecting my people.”

Others shared photos of their closed bank accounts, links to lists of Black-owned banks, and stories of closing their bank accounts after Wells Fargo’s 2016 fake account scandal.

Lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also took to Twitter to criticise the CEO’s statement. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Perhaps it’s the CEO of Wells Fargo who lacks the talent to recruit Black workers,” and Brown wrote, “There’s plenty of Black talent… they just don’t have the talent for fraud and abuse you’re looking for.”

In recent months, companies like Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest bank in the US by assets, have faced calls to hire minority employees and address claims of discrimination. Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo have all released statements committing to change, but they have not released data on the racial diversity of their employees to the public, according to prior Business Insider reporting.

On Wednesday, Scharf addressed the backlash.

“I apologise for making an insensitive comment reflecting my own unconscious bias,” Scharf wrote in a company-wide memo on Wednesday. “There are many talented diverse individuals working at Wells Fargo and throughout the financial services industry and I never meant to imply otherwise.”

Scharf pointed to Wells Fargo’s “early progress” in creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment, including a “returnship” program to help minority workers return to the workforce after an extended period out of the industry and requiring a diverse slate of candidates for roles with salaries of over $US100,000. Wells Fargo is also building relationships with historically Black universities, and tying executive compensation to their progress in improving diversity and inclusion, the memo said.