- Wells Fargo has agreed to make job offers to 580 applicants and pay $7.8 million in back wages and interest to settle allegations of hiring discrimination by the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
- The OFCCP alleged in a statement that the bank violated Executive Order No. 11246 by discriminating against 34,193 African American applicants in several types of positions and against 308 female applicants for administrative support positions. The order forbids federal contractors from discriminating in employment.
- “The agreement with the OFCCP relates to its routine review of hiring data from six to 10 years ago in a small number of U.S. geographies," Peter Gilchrist, a Wells Fargo spokesman, said in a statement emailed to Banking Dive's sister publication, HR Dive. "The review found lower selection rates for African Americans for some teller, customer service and personal and phone banker positions, while Hispanics were generally the group with the highest selection rate, reflecting the need for Spanish-language skills for certain customer-facing roles. There were no findings that Wells Fargo hiring managers intentionally discriminated against job candidates. Since this time period, we have made significant changes, including centralizing recruiting, establishing a recruiting team focused on diverse talent, increasing partnerships with diverse organizations (including historically black colleges and universities), and improving record keeping."
The settlement comes after Wells Fargo moved in June to tie diversity efforts to executive pay, as part of an effort to double the number of Black leaders at the bank within the next five years. The bank also said it will add a diversity and inclusion position that reports directly to its CEO. Black people make up 6% of Wells Fargo's senior management, according to Bloomberg. Few of the top U.S. banks connect diversity goals to individual pay.
The OFCCP enforces mandates that prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of protected characteristics such as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or veteran status, according to its website. The agency reported last year that its enforcement collections hit a record high with settlements totaling $20 million with Bank of America, Dell and Goldman Sachs over pay discrimination claims.
The recently announced settlement covers hiring discrimination. Experts have recommended several steps employers can take to combat bias and related claims. HR professionals can create diverse hiring panels and standardize interview questions.