The message was resoundingly clear from top executives and professionals: If your company is having trouble finding qualified minority candidates for top roles, it’s because you’re not looking.
Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf did not speak Wednesday at Bloomberg’s Equality Summit, but comments he made in a June memo that surfaced this week lamenting “a very limited pool of Black talent” for certain key roles, struck a chord with many who did. (Scharf on Wednesday apologized for the remarks.)
“It’s a myth. It’s untrue—it’s absolutely inaccurate,” Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said during a panel at the summit. “I’ve heard that before and the reality is there are talented people out there. There are talented Black people, brown people and Asian people.”
Most major U.S. companies have, at a minimum, nodded to improving diversity in their workforces after protests that erupted in June over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Cisco Systems Inc. on Wednesday, for example, made a pledge to increase Black representation. “We have a long way to go,” Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO, said at the event. “But we’re making progress.”
The Bank of England, however, said it’s unlikely to meet goals for getting more women and people of color into senior leadership roles, Chief Operating Officer Joanna Place, said.
Kewsong Lee, co-CEO of Carlyle Group, didn’t want to comment on Wells Fargo directly, but he said that his company has not had an issue with finding diverse candidates and has a pipeline of talent. About half of recent hires are either women or people of color, Lee said.
Musician John Legend, who was also on the panel with Pritchard from P&G, took direct aim at Wells Fargo not just for its CEO’s recent comments. “Wells Fargo in particular has caused significant harm in our communities by deceiving people and duping them into taking mortgages that they shouldn’t have taken.”
At the #EqualitySummit, @johnlegend says Wells Fargo has “caused significant harm” in communities of color by “deceiving people”
11:23 PM · Sep 23, 2020
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