Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf has apologized for insensitive remarks about race and diversity--after he claimed there was a shortage of talent among minority groups.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Scharf had shocked some Black employees in a Zoom meeting this summer--when he reiterated that the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there were not enough qualified minority candidates.
He repeated the assertion in a company-wide memo that announced diversity initiatives -- just as nationwide protests broke out after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died in police custody.
Scharf's remarks were widely criticized by politicians and business leaders.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the most prominent Wells Fargo critics, said quote: "Its CEO has an unfathomable blind spot about how and why this giant bank fails to hire, promote, and fairly compensate Black talent - and continues to be a core part of a financial system that scams Black families disproportionately and fuels structural racism in our economy and our society."
Meanwhile U.S. Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted "Perhaps it's the CEO of Wells Fargo who lacks the talent to recruit Black workers."
Scharf said in a statement Wednesday that quote, "There are many talented diverse individuals working at Wells Fargo and throughout the financial services industry and I never meant to imply otherwise."
He listed a handful of appointments the bank has made recently as evidence of its commitment to diversity and went on to lay out the further steps it was taking to recruit more minorities.
As the head of the largest U.S. bank by number of employees, Scharf has pledged to double the number of Black leaders over five years, and tied executive compensation to reaching diversity goals.
He has also told hiring managers to consider diverse candidates for high-paying roles that are vacant, and to ensure diversity on interview teams.
Since Scharf joined the bank a little less than a year ago, it has added two Black executives to its operating committee.