How a statement made by Wells Fargo's CEO perpetuates myths about the availability of black talent.




Earlier in the week, the CEO of Wells Fargo made a public comment which quickly proved to be based in misinformation and a fundamental leadership disconnect from the true issues with workplace diversity.


In his statement, Charles Scharf suggested that there is a limited availability of talent within the black community. As would be expected, the response caused furrowed brows across the community of Diversity and Inclusion practitioners, but especially amongst the hundreds of thousands of black professionals who've faced a mound of hiring regret letters.


As someone who has worked in D&I for the past 10+ years of my career, I, too, was astounded by the seemingly mythical perception of Mr. Scharf. Here we have a CEO, the top ranks of one of the largest financial institutions in the world making such broad assumptions in a public arena. Instead of using his influence to call out the opportunity his and other companies have to improve workplace diversity, he avoided the real conversation. It's safe to say that Wells Fargo, under Scharf's leadership, has found it easier to make excuses than be a change agent.


Perhaps a better comment to make about the availability of black talent would've been one of accountability. A statement that describes what Wells Fargo is actually doing to shift the appearance and make-up of its workforce would've been admirable, too. Mr. Scharf is among a large, influential group of majority white organizations who've excused themselves from instituting effective remedies to address the true barrier that stands in the way of black talent attaining the opportunities they are qualified for and deserve. Bias across workplace policies and practices is the real culprit.


I'd love to dig a little deeper into Wells Fargo's story and that of other companies that make gross miscalculations in their understanding of why black talent doesn't exist in their ranks. I'm confident if he and other C-Suite leaders would voyage to the silos of their talent recruiters and hiring managers, they may find a plethora of inconsistencies in screening and hiring practices that will illuminate the real reason why black talent isn't available. That reason - hiring managers struggling with bias and a reluctance to commit to the value of inclusion have failed to hire black talent. There's no other way to describe it.


Disclaimer: The aforementioned commentary reflect the personal views/experiences of Sonji Young only.

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