Wells Fargo CEO: "there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from"

Wall Street hitting main street news with Wells CEO explaining that the reason they fail to hit "diversity goals" is due to "the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from." Have seen this headline circulated many times on my social media with a lot of backlash.

Thoughts? Interesting as this forum has some strong opinions about diversity recruiting. 

 

here are some relevant articles:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/wells-fargo-c…

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2020/0…

Comments (108)

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Sep 22, 2020 - 10:38pm

I personally don't have a problem with his comment and it's one of the reasons why these diversity programs can irritate me. 
 

if you take the percentage of qualified White / Asian applicants and compare it to the percentage of African American qualified applicants there's going to be a clear disparity. Which is why when Wall Street firms (Goldman for example) want 50% of entry level employees to be females or minorities it creates an environment where the process for non minority individuals face an even more competitive interview process. 
 

I by no means am saying I disagree with diversity programs, but I bet if you took a percentage of qualified non diversity applicants to diversity applicants it would be the 80% versus 20% range (maybe closer just taking a guess). So it shouldn't be a 50 / 50 mix until the applicants every year get closer to 50 / 50. 

 
  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 22, 2020 - 10:50pm

I think the statement brings stronger cause for diversity recruiting. Fact of the matter is that access to opportunity DOES vary and thus is cause for the "smaller pool" to begin with. The statement is situational awareness (perhaps people are angry with the out of context version ie "black professionals are less qualified"); it is the reason diversity recruiting is put in place to begin with – and I will never understand those who get hot flashes over diversity recruiting tbh. 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 1:57pm

Access to opportunity varies much more by class, rather than race/ethnicity. This is why people get upset with diversity recruiting. Wealthy kids of any race are still on average going to get into the best schools and have great careers regardless of diversity recruitment. Ultimately, situations now exist where some well qualified lower class white kid gets over looked, while an upper class less qualified minority may get a look. It may not be as prevalent in FO roles, but diversity recruitment for support & technology is huge.

 

Not sure why this would be so hard for people to understand.

 
Controversial
  • Intern in IB - Ind
Sep 22, 2020 - 11:07pm

What he meant to say is that there is a "very limited pool of black talent to choose from" at WELLS FARGO lol.

There's not much black talent out there for obvious reasons- and the ones out there are more likely to be at GS or MS, not WF.

 
  • Intern in IB - Ind
Sep 28, 2020 - 11:32am

you don't need to be a math major to understand that of the limited number of Black kids going into banking- the ones who are relatively good enough to get an offer are going to be clamores up by the top BB's also trying to up their diversity numbers. WF is competing with the top ranked banks for a limited # of qualified applicants, they are will almost always lose that battle.

Let's put on our thinking caps here buddy.

 
  • Associate 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 12:13am

I was on that call. It seems it was taken very much out of context. Nearly the entire call was about how important D&I is to his regime. Obviously dumb but, as said above, it's true.

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 12:48am

He said what everyone with a fucking brain already knows. Just because it's not politically correct doesn't mean it's false. 

That said, it's not that black people are inferior by nature, they just grow up in shittier situations (I think the single motherhood rate is well into the 70% range). Fix the homes, education system that's biased towards upper-class areas, and the culture in order to improve the outcomes. Cramming underqualified people into high-paying jobs is not the answer. 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 8:17am

"Only the government can fix..."  What? The government can certainly help by partnering with corps to create economic zones in inner cities to provide mentoring, additional education, etc. But the biggest responsible party must be the people themselves. They have to incrementally fight to break their own cycle of poverty. No one can do that for them (any race or ethnicity). There are those that come from the inner city background and thrive, albeit a relatively small number. They really wanted it. Their families really wanted it for them. They made incredible sacrifices and tough choices. Need WAY more of that before any government program will show significant results. Otherwise, it's all just feel good BS.

 
Sep 24, 2020 - 10:57am

by your logic, since schools (at least public schools and especially top public schools) are funded by the government, it's very much appropriate for them to attempt to fix the problem with diversity admissions. they're utilizing federal money. I don't see a better way for meeting the demand for qualified, underrepresented minorities in finance than by admitting more of them into programs that will train them to be competitive in the field.

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 23, 2020 - 2:44am

I will never understand this stuff. No one benefits from ignoring reality. We need to talk about the fact that there aren't enough qualified black applicants. How can we fix a problem we're not even allowed to talk about?

There are not enough qualified black applicants because racism, specifically against black people, is inextricable from the history of the United States. Being born black in the US immediately puts you behind the 8 ball. Whether that is fair or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that it's true.

Look how bad black people have it in this country. Is anyone under a delusion that there would be an abundance of qualified applicants? You're ten times more likely to be shot and killed if your black. How the hell are you supposed to be a qualified applicant for Wells Fargo if you're dead?

Isn't step one on the road to recovery admitting you have a problem?

 
  • VP in IB - Ind
Sep 23, 2020 - 9:05am

This sounds like a pile of excuses for the modern reality. There is no question that historical prejudice created a toxic black culture in America, but there is zero desire to change or improve that culture. The crux of the problem is a disregard for the nuclear family and neglect for education.

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Sep 23, 2020 - 12:25pm

A pile of excuses? I'm asking why we're not allowed to point out that there are not enough qualified black applicants.

You and I can disagree about why there aren't qualified black applicants and that's fine, but that's not really what's important. Regardless of which of us is correct about why the talent pool barely exists, it's not going to get fixed if we can't talk about the fact that the talent pool barely exists. 

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 24, 2020 - 3:37am

Yes, it is true that there is a lack of talented black applicants. However, its not because of some sort of inherent disadvantage given to black people the minute they are born. Blacks have a 10x chance of being shot because they on average are overrepresented in violent crimes compared to the overall population. Knowing that, its easy to understand why they have a higher chance of being shot (they are more likely to be in a position of getting shot relative to other races).

The solution is not to put unqualified blacks in top jobs, and instead its to drop the victim mentality, pursue an education, earn the job on merit. Once that happens, the problem of not enough talented black candidates would go away on its own. 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 3:27am

I don't get all the criticism he is receiving on Twitter. There's not an unlimited amount of diversity candidates that qualify for objective measures such as grades, SAT scores, GMAT scores etc. But with the polarization of the debate environment, there's no need to discuss the underlying issues as long as you're politically correct. 

I don't know... Yeah. Almost definitely yes.

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 9:35am

as a white male from the UK, i definitely disagree with his statement, and this is from personal exp.  Having had relatives who work in recruitment for buy-side firms, and them being told not to hire too many non-white British candidates, irrespective of their qualifications, it is clear to see that racism and unfairness in general is still alive and well. 

 

Even when I've seen black friends of mine with a better CV getting rejected for roles i get ints for, why is this a 2-sided debate? My experience isnt universal, but i have seen a lot of banks reject well-qualified black and asian candidates in favour of white candidates like myself who have a less polished CV 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 2:13pm

as a white male from the UK, i definitely disagree with his statement, and this is from personal exp.  Having had relatives who work in recruitment for buy-side firms, and them being told not to hire too many non-white British candidates, irrespective of their qualifications, it is clear to see that racism and unfairness in general is still alive and well. 

Even when I've seen black friends of mine with a better CV getting rejected for roles i get ints for, why is this a 2-sided debate? My experience isn't universal, but I have seen a lot of banks reject well-qualified black and asian candidates in favour of white candidates like myself who have a less polished CV 

Aren't employers just hurting themselves when they don't hire qualified candidates? 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 2:28pm

Not necessarily. You can be very qualified but still passed over for the other guy or girl who the bosses think will fit in better with the current team or the firm's current/potential clients. This usually results in a white manager hiring another white person because they're both similar (and people prefer others who are similar to them), or because the manager thinks that the white hire will appeal more to the firm's clients, who are often older, rich white people (that too often harbor outdated views about race and competence).

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 7:51pm

this is my point, however, as someone has already noted, these decisions at times do boil down to clients having a bias, which is often not justified, so the onus to solve these issues aren't solely on the banks, but on the client's and individuals with regards to actually changing their views. 

 

Some people will naturally jump to the conclusion that said BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) applicants aren't a cultural 'fit', but how can you come to this conclusion without even giving them an int.......... I've noticed a trend of EBs predominantly rejecting highly qualified BAME individuals in favour of white candidates (like myself lol) with limited exp.  

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 9:46am

It's true. What is the point of ignoring reality? 

Not only is it that there are limited candidates who meet the academic standards, culturally.... talented black ppl. are more likely to pursue Med School or Law. 

Anyone who has been through a bank training program has seen that there are clearly different standards for offers in order to meet diversity targets.

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 5:42pm

Sure they can be successful. Not knowing accounting at 22 doesn't doom anyone for life. 

There is good statistical evidence that affirmative action programs in college actually increase the black dropout rate because students are getting into schools they aren't academically qualified to attend. If you are underwater and feel incompetent in the first 12 months of your new job...of course you are more likely to wash out. 

IMO...it's not necessarily starting at the top (schools, first job) that matters if you aren't in a position to succeed. 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 9:53am

its up to corporate america to start investing in people again. hes not wrong..there is a limited pool of black talent..but that could be easily changed if companies actually invested in their businesses and people instead of just buying back stock. instead of the C level crowd giving themselves golden parachutes maybe they ought to use some of that money to hire people full time, provide healthcare/benefits and a career path.

 

and FYI..im not a liberal at all. 

alpha currency trader wanna-be
 
Sep 23, 2020 - 10:51am

Yea, but that's not really their responsibility. They're running a company for profit, they go to the job market to find the people who best fit their needs. If no one in the job market met their needs, maybe they might invest to train people up. But there is already a lot of talent out there. 

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 12:48pm

Quick question (purely out of curiosity): Do you think a analyst should be able to most of the IB job on day one?  

 

This is something I struggle with as I think that the best qualified candidates are going to be the ones that spend the most time studying and understanding what banking is.  Thus they will be ready to go when they hit the desk.  However people that don't understand what banking is or have never been told about Finance until its too late in the recruiting cycle are immediately cut from the process. Thus they maybe qualified candidates and granted they have the opportunity to lateral at a later date, but I feel this but them at a disadvantage.  

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 3:43pm

ironman32

Yea, but that's not really their responsibility. They're running a company for profit, they go to the job market to find the people who best fit their needs. If no one in the job market met their needs, maybe they might invest to train people up. But there is already a lot of talent out there. 

This Milton Friedman shit is the biggest con in American history. Business is the way PEOPLE buy and sell in the marketplace to create better lives for ourselves, each other, and our families. The whole profit motive thing, yes, it's important to ensure the validity of your transactions and prove value add. But that's one piece to what a business is. Shareholders are not the only market participants, nor are they the only important parts to a healthy, functioning society. Anyone who still thinks this needs to evolve, tbh.

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 12:55pm

watersign

its up to corporate america to start investing in people again. hes not wrong..there is a limited pool of black talent..but that could be easily changed if companies actually invested in their businesses and people instead of just buying back stock. instead of the C level crowd giving themselves golden parachutes maybe they ought to use some of that money to hire people full time, provide healthcare/benefits and a career path.

 

and FYI..im not a liberal at all. 

Even if you assume that change, how does that actually address the problem? The pool of applicants will be the same.

 
Sep 24, 2020 - 10:27am

Bullet-Tooth Tony

watersign

its up to corporate america to start investing in people again. hes not wrong..there is a limited pool of black talent..but that could be easily changed if companies actually invested in their businesses and people instead of just buying back stock. instead of the C level crowd giving themselves golden parachutes maybe they ought to use some of that money to hire people full time, provide healthcare/benefits and a career path.

 

and FYI..im not a liberal at all. 

Even if you assume that change, how does that actually address the problem? The pool of applicants will be the same.

 

it addresses it by training these people up. i dont think you need to be a rocket scientist to do *most* corporate jobs. i could see this argument being valid in more STEM based industries or technical vocations but alot of finance jobs are just doing stuff in excel and knowing some accounting terms. i feel the same way about alot of individual contributor roles in any F500 or publicly traded corporation.  i dont come from money and i notice the amount of gate keeping that goes on in corporate america. you need to talk and look a certain way to get in.

alpha currency trader wanna-be
 
Sep 23, 2020 - 11:06am

To fix this you need to increase the size of the pool. There's two hurdles for that:

1. Most minorities aren't in banking because they don't know what it is. Mainly because their parents don't know what it is. I'm not a minority, but I grew up in an environment like this, never really knowing what a bank did, but I figured it out. 

2. We have to ask/define what "talent" is. Think about sports. If you took everyone is America and lined them up according to speed, it isnt the top 100 on that list are automatically in the NFL/NBA/MLS. Talent isn't pure skill, people forget that. Take Jordan/Lebron, not the best at everything, but able to put it together. Sometimes getting hired at a bank is more than knowing how to run a DCF. 

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 2:27pm

Once spoke to a black kid from the south interested in pursuing banking. He had that thick, southern black accent like rappers from ATL and didn't speak properly at all really. I immediately thought there is no way this kid can work in banking. I don't mean to be insensitive/mean/etc. but it was just the harsh reality of the situation. He was brought up in that environment and is at a huge disadvantage from the start. Nonetheless, I really hope he succeeds. 

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 7:03pm

Why? Are you making the assumption that because the kid is black he's unable to speak proper English? That actually seems more racist to me than what OP said. 

 

If you can't speak proper English, you won't succeed in a FO role, no matter what color you are. And it's people like you who are a major part of the race problem in this country with your watering down of the word "racist". 

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 3:19pm

I get the comment. It probably means that he's trying to excuse a preference for ignoring minorities. But, on the other hand, the reason these programs exist is because of the disparity that exists in preparedness itself. At the end of the day, you can say what you want about an individual or characteristics of a group based on statistical means that you think identify characteristics of an individual, and it still changes nothing that our social world is better off by closing the disparity at least to some degree. There is no argument for the disparity is ok. It's something that exists and is a negative drive on society.

I do think it's important to prepare people whether black, white, asian, women, male for all jobs, not even just banking. I don't think it's realistic to go into "the hood" and think you're going to change minds and goals just because of your presence. But resources to tackle obstacles while interested kids are still in school can be good in helping to support their development, so that they are prepared.

I know from personal experience, I was recruited by several banks as a black male. I had worked in prestigious professional internships for 4 years while in school and I did conform to the "standard". But I had my own difficulties because none of my schools from HS through college really supported development to meet banks' expectations. Banks and many other professional firms have a very nuanced culture, that more well off blacks experience at a very young age, but I did not. I don't think that it is something that shows incompetence, just maybe less prepared in the qualitative aspects like language, perspective, approach, etc.

Everyone is so quick to throw out what we know to be generally true (that even with disparity, humans are not that far from one another to explain the significant gaps) and quickly say the answer is that something has no positive impact because it doesn't have the immediate desired results. But, I'm willing to bet that it's a better option than just doing nothing.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Sep 23, 2020 - 3:29pm

Agree completely (especially with the nuanced culture comment) and yes, I knew someone would call it racist, but how else was I supposed to describe the situation? Thank you for understanding.

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 5:08pm

We should all be warned that people should avoid publicly commenting about societal issues according to race, gender, nationality, religion, etc. (see disclaimers for virtually all job postings).  You'll never be rewarded for it, but the repercussions can be drastic. Just don't do it. 

KC
 
Sep 23, 2020 - 6:55pm

These comments are so racist it is baffling. Why is it so okay with us to critique affirmative action on the grounds that it goes against the idea of merit based hiring schemes, but be totally comfortable with the gross disregard of such schemes with respect to college acceptance / hiring practices eg accepting kids from wealthy families?

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 6:57pm

Anyone can be successful in IB. Spreading comps isn't rocket science. While no one is going to debate that white/Asian candidates are more qualified than minorities from a statistical standpoint, the point of these programs is to provide more diversified viewpoints at firms. Everyone gets bored of hearing the same conservative viewpoints from jimmy or timmy who went to Andover (not an actual person)...

Array
 
  • VP in IB - Ind
Sep 23, 2020 - 8:39pm

More diverse viewpoints adds little value the lower the position, particularly for the analyst pool. However, choosing candidates of any race or background that are less qualified can certainly have a negative impact in terms of quality, efficiency, etc. for deal teams.

While it isn't rocket science, there is a specific precision, attention to detail and communication skill set required to be a good analyst.

 
  • Intern in IB - Ind
Sep 23, 2020 - 7:50pm

I actually read this comment as more telling on Wells Fargo. We all know the "black talent pool" is much smaller (that's the whole basis of diversity recruiting.) but what he seems to also be saying by this comment is Wells Fargo either doesn't have the resources or doesn't care enough too train them. Either of those cases is a cause of concern. What's more concerning is his inability to recognise this or (perhaps worse) ignore their own shortcoming. But then again, this is Wells Fargo.

 
Sep 23, 2020 - 8:33pm

Resident WSO lib here, and (surprise!) I actually agree with the CEO. I've worked in MM IB for 10+ years and we've continually struggled to attract women and minority talent. Far fewer resumes cross my desk, and those that we make an offer to usually decline for a "better" bank and have multiple offers in hand. There may be a glass ceiling on women/minorities as they ascend in banking, but a qualified college grad can write their own ticket out of school. 
 

As you can imagine from my post history, I've tried my hardest to increase the diversity in our analyst groups, but it's simply been a supply problem.

Ive never thought the AA quotas was the appropriate way to address the imbalance, but rather, massive investments in underserved communities and schools, police and sentencing reform, and ending the war on drugs, funded by increased taxes on those who have already "made it". 

when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression
 
Sep 24, 2020 - 10:58am

You might be one of the few true liberals left in this country (and on WSO).

I agree with you 99%. I've been saying pretty much the same thing in so many comments and posts on WSO and in real life (Except for the tax increase part, I'd rather focus on shifting away tax revenue wasted in gigantic bureaucracies to education). Yet I get labeled as a racist bigot who hates diversity.

Crazy times we live in.

 
Sep 28, 2020 - 11:32am

Milton Friedchickenman

You might be one of the few true liberals left in this country (and on WSO).

I agree with you 99%. I've been saying pretty much the same thing in so many comments and posts on WSO and in real life (Except for the tax increase part, I'd rather focus on shifting away tax revenue wasted in gigantic bureaucracies to education). Yet I get labeled as a racist bigot who hates diversity.

Crazy times we live in.

I think there are plenty of people Center Left like me, but the media chooses to focus on the 50 idiots starting fires in Portland. My issue with many (not all) on the Right is that they have no interest in treating the symptom (lack of qualified applicants via Affirmative Action) or the cause (early childhood/education disadvantages). They were born on 3rd base, others weren't, and that's not their problem. 

when you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression
 
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Restr
Sep 23, 2020 - 8:39pm

Quotes like this get backlash because people are dumb. 

 

(i)  Even if everyone had perfectly equal opportunities, there would not be equal representation on a racial/gendered basis in any field.  There have been no groups in human history, or in any animal societies, in which individuals from different groups have sorted themselves in the same way.  Different groups value and are interested in different things, not to mention have different skill-sets as a result of environment and the skill-sets/knowledge which has been accumulated over generations and been passed down w/in that group.  This is neither a good thing or a bad thing, just a basic observation of reality.  Given that groups have never sorted themselves in precisely the same manner when given the ability to, it's bizarre that equal representation in all things is regarded as the idealized norm when it's never happened anywhere at any time. 

 

(ii)  Much in the same way that this is true for immigrant communities (my own included), finance is not on the radar as a career path for young ambitious people from working/lower-class backgrounds.  There aren't bankers in dying industry towns, sparsely populated rural towns, or low-income areas of inner cities.  The ppl w/ visibly successful careers in those areas are doctors and lawyers, so the young ambitious people in those areas will try to go into law or medicine.  I was planning on going into law for precisely this reason until I had to take an intro finance course in college.    

 

People will cry racist or sexist at nearly anything because they think it enhances their moral standing.  In reality, they're an impediment to the equality they're looking for because they don't have the intellectual capacity to identify the causes of the inequality and/or refuse to acknowledge it because it's incongruent w/ their belief in a singular explanation of a white supremacist, patriarchal system of tyranny. 

 
Sep 24, 2020 - 10:47am

He's not wrong.

But the damn liberal media loves to twist words to push an agenda.  You can't force people to be interested in IB if the demographic simply doesn't have an interest for it.  Lol at insufficient recruiting efforts.  WF and every bank pushes diversity recruiting at my school which garners a lot of interest initially but then the recruiting process weeds out a lot of people due to the hard work required to make it to the front door.  Diversity will make sure you get a look but if you can't perform up to par expectations, does it make sense to put you in a position to drop the ball for the everyone else on the team? 

 

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