Corporate America’s Employment Problem Isn’t Just Race But Also Class And Elitism

Walking with one foot in your mouth is hard. Plant the other in a pit of quicksand and you’re pretty well stuck.

That’s the position Wells Fargo
co-CEO Charles “call me Charlie so I seem like a regular guy” Scharf is in. During a Zoom call this summer, Charlie (because I feel so close to him, or at least his press releases) made what is called in the business an unfortunate remark. According to a Reuters report on Tuesday[2], when some Black employees asked about unmet diversity goals, he replied that finding non-Whites was difficult. Later, in a memo, he wrote, “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, whose last name in German means sharp, managed to say something sharp in meaning and anything but sharp in presentation or timing. A slew of criticism broke forth. As did a corporate press release on Wednesday[3]:

Some of you may have seen media stories referencing a comment on diverse talent from my June “Our commitment to change” memo. I apologize for making an insensitive comment reflecting my own unconscious bias. There are many talented diverse individuals working at Wells Fargo and throughout the financial services industry and I never meant to imply otherwise. I’ve worked in the financial services industry for many years, and it’s clear to me that, across the industry, we have not done enough to improve diversity, especially at senior leadership levels. And there is no question Wells Fargo has to make meaningful progress to increase diverse representation. As I said in June, I have committed that this time must be different.

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