Wells Fargo Revives Policy That Led to Fake Job Interviews, With Tweaks

Wells Fargo is reactivating a hiring practice that it paused earlier this year after a former employee revealed that it was leading managers to interview nonwhite candidates for jobs that had already been filled, according to a memo seen by The New York Times.

The bank’s practice, known as its “diverse slate” policy, requires that half the candidates interviewed for certain jobs be female or nonwhite. It also calls for the panel of people interviewing candidates for certain jobs to be “diverse,” meaning they cannot all be white men. Beginning Aug. 19, the practice will again be put in place for certain jobs, with new features added to prevent abuse, according to the memo, which was sent to managers at the bank on Monday.

The bank acknowledged in the memo that its guidelines could be improved. One problem executives found, according to the memo: “Our guidelines and processes can be overly prescriptive.”

The biggest changes will be increased training for managers and an easier approval process for exemptions to the diverse slate requirement.

There will also be a change in which open jobs must meet the requirement. The earlier version of the policy required that every job with a salary of $100,000 or more be filled only after interviews were conducted with a diverse slate of candidates.

“Instead of the previous compensation-based criteria, roles that are in-scope will now be based on job level, not compensation,” the memo said. It did not specify which job levels would fall within the requirement.

Wells Fargo suspended the policy on June 6 following a report by The Times that a former employee in the bank’s wealth management business had complained that he was being forced by his bosses to interview people for jobs that had already been promised to others, just to meet the diverse hiring requirement. Overall, 12 current and former employees told The Times they had either participated in fake interviews or were aware of the practice.

On June 9, The Times reported that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were investigating whether Wells Fargo had violated job candidates’ civil rights.

When they suspended the policy, the bank’s leaders vowed to spend the following weeks talking to employees to find out how to improve the program.

“Overwhelmingly, we heard the need to improve the candidate and manager experience and the need for a stronger and longer-term commitment and investment to help employees develop their skills and grow their careers,” the memo said.

In a statement emailed to news outlets on Wednesday announcing the revival of the policy, Bei Ling, Wells Fargo’s head of human resources, said that the bank had compared its policies to those of other banks and large companies and decided that, as a concept, requiring “diverse slates” of job candidates was a “common, good practice.”

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