For the last few years, large corporations have vowed to boost their DEI efforts following the social justice uprising of summer 2020. But, one financial institution is being accused of talking the talk but not walking the walk.

The New York Times reported that Wells Fargo staff allegedly held dishonest interviews with diverse applicants just to bolster their diversity stats.

This is according to eight employees that work with Wells Fargo to some capacity. The New York Times said they were given the directive to interview Black and Brown people as well as women for jobs within the company that were already filled. The employees said this was not supposed to lead to any of the interviewees actually getting hired or even seriously considered for the roles, but simply a strategy to pump more numbers into their DEI strategies.

The New York Times spoke with former Wells Fargo executive Joe Bruno, to which he shared that he spoke with management about the staged interviews and thought they were inappropriate. He claims his complaints about the interviews being morally and ethically wrong were overlooked. As a result, Bruno said he believes his subsequent termination was due to his discontent over the interviews and speaking out against them.

“Wells Fargo retaliated against him for telling his superiors that the ‘fake interviews’ were ‘inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong,” the New York Times reported.

On May 25, 2022 Wells Fargo shared a statement with Essence stating they “believe its implementation of diverse candidate slates is a best practice and has contributed to meaningful increases in diverse hiring at Wells Fargo. The numbers show this to be the case. The company researched all the specific hiring practice allegations the New York Times reporter shared prior to the story’s publication and could not corroborate these allegations as factual. The company’s new management team is committed to transparency and accountability. Given the seriousness of the allegations in the story that was published, it will continue its internal review.”

This latest allegation comes just a few years after Wells Fargo’s CEO came under fire for his controversial remarks about the lack of diversity within the company’s workplace structure.

“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 said in a memo, CNBC reported in September 2020.

“There is an amazing amount of Black talent out there,” said Ken Bacon, a former mortgage industry executive who is on the boards of Comcast Corp, Ally Financial Inc and Welltower Inc in an interview with CNBC. “If people say they can’t find the talent, they either aren’t looking hard enough or don’t want to find it.”