Wells Fargo Employees Claim They Were Told to Give ‘Fake Interviews’ to Feign Diversity

Wells Fargo employees have claimed the company often interviewed women and people of color to document diversity efforts in its recruiting operations despite previously having offered the roles to other candidates. The bank reportedly has a long-standing informal policy of interviewing “diverse” candidates for available jobs, which the firm defines as women or people of color. Several employees, however, stated that they began to notice that candidates were frequently interviewed for roles that had previously been offered to someone else.

Former Wells Fargo executive Joe Bruno told Action News, “You feel very uncomfortable being on the other side of that table doing an interview, and you know that candidate has a zero chance of getting the job — zero. These are real human beings on the other side of the table. They have families. I have a family. It’s just wrong.” Bruno said his concerns about the practice were dismissed by his superiors. The 58-year-old executive was fired in August 2021, in what he believes was retaliation for telling higher-ups that the “fake interviews” were “inappropriate, morally wrong, and ethically wrong.”

Bruno is one of seven current and former Wells Fargo workers who claim they were told to interview a diverse group of candidates for jobs that had already been filled. The interviews appeared to be more of an attempt to document diversity initiatives on paper, maybe as a precaution in case of an audit of Wells Fargo’s recruiting procedures, according to the workers. Executives at the bank urged staff to obey the bank’s hiring policies and stated that they do not condone the alleged misconduct detailed by the employees. Wells Fargo issued a statement claiming, “We researched all specific claims the reporter shared with us in advance of the story’s publication and could not corroborate the claims as factual.”

In 2013, the bank faced a lawsuit from black financial advisers over racial discrimination, forcing the bank to pay almost $36 million and pledge to “take actions designed to enhance opportunities for employment, earnings, and advancement of African American financial advisors and financial advisor trainees.” In 2017, Wells Fargo officials mandated that employers interview at least one woman or a person of color for each new position. However, some executives claim the regulation was never implemented and was only meant for a few high-level posts, paying more than $100,000. A reported 81% of the 30,000 workers employed by Wells Fargo in 2021 were not white men. It’s unclear how many of the workers were paid more than $100,000.

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