US multinational bank Wells Fargo is facing a federal investigation after current and former employees came forward alleging the company was interviewing women and minority candidates for positions that had already been filled in a bid to reach their diversity hiring targets.
Prosecutors in Manhattan launched the probe after Wells Fargo employees said in a New York Times report that they had been ordered to conduct the sham interviews with women and people of colour to adhere to a Diversity & Inclusion policy even after the hiring managers had already selected a candidate for the posts.
One of the employees who spoke to the NYT, Joe Bruno, said he was fired for revealing the practice.
The events prompted Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf to issue a company-wide memo assuring that the management has been listening closely to employee feedback since the article was published. "In these sessions, you've described in deeply personal terms the career obstacles you've faced because of who you are," the CEO said. The bank has since halted its diversity hiring policy.
The suspension, Scharf said, is "a chance for us to review our guidelines and processes and to make improvements." The CEO, however, clarified that the bank shouldn't stop "actively recruiting diverse candidates".
In a statement shared with ABC News, Wells Fargo said: "No one should be put through an interview without a real chance of receiving an offer, period."
With the diverse slate guidelines aiming to increase the representation of women and minorities in the workforce, Wells Fargo said it has been able to "see meaningful results in our hiring data since 2020".
The bank said it wants to ensure that the implementation of its guidelines is consistent.
"The company is conducting a review so that hiring managers, senior leaders and recruiters fully understand how the guidelines should be implemented – and so we can have confidence that our guidelines live up to their promise," Wells Fargo said.