DEI Leaders Connect Meeting Sponsor Wells Fargo Discusses DEI Progress and Opportunities for Growth

Over 20 DEI and HR leaders from across DFW joined a virtual meeting of the DRC’s DEI Leaders Connect group Tuesday, October 26. The meeting was sponsored by Wells Fargo, and James Schmeltekopf, Executive Vice President and Commercial Banking Leader for Wells Fargo’s Southern Division, shared an update on the company’s DEI efforts.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the presentation:

James shared that Wells Fargo’s operating committee, comprised of CEO Charlie Scharf and his direct reports, made a commitment to DEI last year and is accountable for following through on that commitment with direct reports and leaders at all levels through more diverse representation and leadership development. As a result of this work, Wells Fargo is making progress on advancing diversity in executive leadership positions and has launched two sponsorship programs for high-potential employees from underrepresented backgrounds.

Wells Fargo is also focused on increasing diverse representation in early career roles. To aid in that effort, the company is expanding its early talent pipelines by building stronger relationships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). Wells Fargo has also signed on to the OneTen initiative to hire one million African Americans into family-sustaining careers in the next ten years.

Additionally, in Dallas, Wells Fargo is committed to investing in historically excluded communities to spur economic growth. This involves overcoming distrust with community members and removing barriers to banking by creating low-or-no-cost services. As part of this work, Wells Fargo launched the Banking Inclusion Initiative, a 10-year commitment to increasing access to banking in “unbanked” communities whose members do not, or cannot, access financial services like checking accounts. This initiative focuses on African American, Hispanic, and Native American families, who account for half of the 7 million unbanked households in the U.S. Wells Fargo also is collaborating with the Black Economic Alliance to commit $20 million over five years to a $50 million investment fund to provide capital to businesses led by African American founders.

James acknowledged that for all of Wells Fargo’s progress, much work remains to be done. Retaining younger talent and identifying corporate leadership development opportunities for underrepresented talent in retail operations are two ongoing challenges, and Wells Fargo is  working on solutions to address these issues.

Following James’ presentation, the DEI Leaders Connect group was able to ask questions about Wells Fargo’s efforts. The group also discussed continued challenges retaining diverse talent, with several group members suggesting the implementation of  “stay interviews” to understand why employees stay with a company, and what might cause them to leave. Other group members shared that their organizations are implementing other retention efforts, including offering more workplace flexibility/remote work options, increasing compensation or offering retention bonuses, providing more childcare benefits, focusing on mental and physical well-being, and conducting listening sessions with employee resource groups.

The DEI Leaders Connect group will meet next Tuesday, December 7, 2021. In 2022, the group will begin hosting small group lunches to allow members to get to know each other better.