Wall Street and Silicon Valley have little to show when it comes to diversity commitments, critics say

A clash between Wells Fargo and a prominent union investor over racial fairness at the banking giant highlights growing pressure on some of America’s biggest companies to keep their promises to improve their labor practices. diversity.

Wells Fargo on Tuesday urges shareholders to vote against a proposal calling on the lender to improve its racial diversity policies for employees and assess the company’s impact on communities of color. According to a regulation deposit, the International Union of Service Employees’ pension plan proposal calls on the bank to conduct an internal review to help “identify, prioritize, remedy and avoid negative impacts on non-white stakeholders and communities of color” . The findings would then be made public on the company’s website.

The Wells Fargo board said that a “human rights impact study” was already in the works.

“Wells Fargo is committed to doing the job to ensure that we provide our employees with an inclusive and respectful workplace where diverse talent flourishes, a spokesperson for the lender said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch . “While we still have work to do, we have taken steps that include creating a diverse group of segments, representation and inclusion reporting directly to the CEO who is responsible for the progress and delivery of the programs. new and existing; conducting diversity-focused talent reviews and mentoring. programs to help promote under-represented groups; assess senior leaders on increasing diverse representation at leadership levels; and require unconscious bias training for all managers. “

Wells Fargo intends to release 2019 and 2020 employee data on gender and race this summer, the spokesperson added.

Despite these steps, some Wells Fargo employees believe their company is not doing enough to promote diversity.

“As bank employees and shareholders of Wells Fargo, we don’t want empty promises,” Ted Laurel, an account resolution specialist in San Antonio, Texas, who is Mexican-American, said at a press conference organized last week by the Committee for Better. Banks (CBB), a coalition of banking workers, consumers and labor groups.

At the same post for eight years, the 38-year-old Army Reserve veteran and father of eight recounted his request for 15 unsuccessful promotions. Laurel told the press conference that other people of color in her department face similar obstacles in ascending to Wells.

“My heart was broken,” Laurel said upon learning that CEO Charles Scharf blamed the company’s lack of black executives on the banking giant having a “very limited pool of black talent to recruit from.” in a memo last summer. While Scharf apologized for his words and held a conference call with employees in December to address their concerns, no concrete changes have taken place, Laurel said.

“We can’t be successful if those of us of color don’t have an opportunity,” Laurel said, expressing support for the SEIU’s proposed diversity audit.

Laurel applied for nine promotions and failed to meet the minimum requirements for the jobs, which typically attract around 200 applicants, according to Wells Fargo.

Affirmative action and the diversity dilemma


A Washington-based investment group has made a similar proposal to Bank of America, which like Wells is opposing it on the grounds that the company is already working to tackle racial inequality. “Our actions and focus on making progress on the issue of racial equity, and reporting regularly on our progress, make the audit requested by the proposal unnecessary,” Bank of America board said. .

Bank of America figures show employees of color in leadership positions Pink at 39% in 2020 against 32% in 2015.

Not fast enough

Unlike Wells and BofA, BlackRock accepts a racial audit. CEO Larry Fink told Harvard Business Review in a recent interview that the world’s largest asset management company “isn’t growing as fast as I would like” to increase diversity, says Bloomberg.

A recent study by the Committee for Better Banks found that black employees are the least likely to climb the corporate ladder at 13 of the nation’s largest consumer banks. February report by McKinsey & Co. found that it would take nearly a century for black Americans working in the private sector to achieve parity in management. Black workers, who make up 15 million, or 12%, of the 125 million private sector employees and 20.6 million of the total black workforce, are under-represented in the fastest growing geographies and the highest paying industries the consulting firm found.

Those disparities – along with the widespread protests that followed the murder of George Floyd last summer by a Minneapolis police officer – sparked more promises from big business to strengthen their own diversity and support minority communities. Amazon, for example, has pledged to double its number of black directors and vice-presidents and increase its hiring of black employees this year by at least 30% from 2020.

But such engagements often end up delivering much less than they promise, according to labor experts.

“It’s a signal to consumers that they are on the safe side of this problem, while doing very little in practice,” Rebecca Konins Givan, associate professor in the University’s School of Management and Labor Relations. Rutgers. “You cannot credibly support racial justice but oppose organizing your workers,” she added of Amazon’s recent victory against an organizing effort in Alabama.

In announcing its workforce diversity goals for the year, Amazon released The figures showing that black employees made up 3.8% of management positions in the company last year.

“Good intentions don’t work”

“We know that good intentions don’t work, but mechanisms work. This is why we use the same mechanisms that we use for our most important business initiatives to create a truly inclusive and fair workplace: set goals and use regular reviews to ensure our progress, ”Beth Galetti, Amazon’s senior vice president for people experience and technology, wrote in a blog post. Publish earlier this month.

But Kimberly Houser, clinical assistant professor of business and technology law at the University of North Texas, doesn’t see a clear strategy at Amazon to address its diversity shortage.

“There hasn’t been a lot of change since Amazon started publishing diversity reports in 2014,” she said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “Statements about accountability only list vague goals. There is no consequence in not achieving them.”

After Silicon Valley drew fire five years ago for her white male-dominated culture, major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple and Google, immediately began publishing data on the diversity of their workplaces. Seen initially as evidence of a good faith effort to hire more women and minorities, annual reports show that these public commitments are often insufficient, according to Houser.

AT Apple, the share of black workers in tech jobs remained stable at 6% from 2014 to 2020, while at GoogleBlack employees held 2.4% of tech jobs last year, up from 1.5% in 2014.

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