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Waters Blasts Wells Fargo CEO’s Remarks on Recruiting Diverse Executives

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf’s remarks on the recruitment of Black executives.

"Charlie Scharf’s comments—spoken to Wells Fargo employees in June and then later memorialized in a memo to them—are sadly familiar to Black people who work in the financial services industry. It’s a refrain that many of them have heard even when they are denied jobs for which they are clearly qualified. It’s been repeated so often that it has become a trope. The truth, however, is that Scharf’s comments are not just an excuse, they are also highly inaccurate. There are qualified people of color in the industry and within Wells Fargo. The problem is that Mr. Scharf does not see them or make a full effort to include such people in his professional circles. To be clear, the financial services industry must do better in terms of diversity and inclusion. This is precisely why I created Congress’ first Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion when I took over as the first Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee last year. Led by Chair Beatty, the Subcommittee has shined a light on the issues surrounding diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry, including in America’s largest banks.

"Earlier this year, the Committee released a staff report on diversity and inclusion at the 44 largest banks. The report, which was based on the banks’ own data, shows that Mr. Scharf isn’t alone in his views. Some banks reported that they lack diversity because they are competing for a ”limited pool” of diverse talent. However, the report noted that these institutions may not be doing enough to look in the right places. To increase accountability for diversity and inclusion, the report recommended that banks publicly disclose their diversity data, track and increase their spending with diverse asset managers and suppliers, and increase and disclose their board diversity.

"I appreciated Mr. Scharf’s apology and his request for help, but his comments make clear that he has a lot of work to do not only in increasing diversity at Wells Fargo but also in addressing his own unconscious biases. Consistent with my efforts to create the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, I will be organizing the kind of assistance clearly necessary to ensure that Mr. Scharf and other CEOs in the financial services industry have no more excuses for failing to increase their companies’ diversity."

In February, Chairwoman Waters and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Chair of the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion, released a multimedia Majority staff report entitled, “Diversity and Inclusion: Holding America’ Large Banks Accountable.” This report was part of a longstanding effort to hold financial institutions accountable and provide the American public with a complete picture of how large banks are meeting their commitments to diversity and inclusion.

Following March and April full Committee hearings to hold megabanks accountable, Chairwoman Waters and Subcommittee Chair Beatty, sent requests to 44 financial institutions to obtain their diversity and inclusion data and policies. The data requests were designed to inform Congress of the diversity levels, policies and practices of the country’s biggest banks.

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