Written by Imani Moyes, Jessica Dinapoli and Rose Gerber
He insisted on June 18 in a corporate-wide memo announcing diversity efforts as nationwide protests erupted following the death in police custody of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd.
“While this may seem like an excuse, the unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of recruitment from black talent,” Sharf said in a memo seen by Reuters.
Sharf asked for more time than he could speak during the 90-minute call he started, unannounced. His comments on Black Talent rubbed off on some of the participants, who, according to two staff members, feared backlash as they talked about the anonymity.
Not all participants recalled being hurt. “The meeting was incredibly constructive … I was incredibly amazed at how real and honest he was,” said Alex David, chairman of the Black / African American Liaison Committee Network.
Many black senior executives across corporate America said they were frustrated by claims of lack of talent, and said that despite their intentions to do so, it was a major reason why companies struggled to add enough racial and ethnic diversity to leadership teams.
Bacon said he was shocked and confused by Sharp’s comments.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Beth Richeck backed Sharf’s record on diversity.
The CEO of the largest US bank boss has promised to double the number of black leaders in five years and build executive compensation to achieve diversity goals. He also demands that managers be hired to consider different candidates for vacant high-paying roles and to ensure diversity in interview committees.
Wells Barco’s latest proxy revealed more diversity data than many companies’ data, with two of the 12 directors at the time being Black and 1 “Latin / Hispanic”.
Sharp “has pledged profound and systematic change to increase diversity, and has conducted a number of forums with honest dialogue and unfiltered feedback,” Richek said in a statement. The scarf was not available for an interview, he said.
“Talent is theirs”
Exploration across corporate America during the Black Lives Matter movement has shed light on the lack of diversity. In boardrooms, African-Americans hired 10% of new directors on Fortune 500 last year, compared to 13% of their American population, according to the 2020 report by executive recruitment firm Heidrick & Struggles. New Hispanic directors were still in short supply, the study found.
The ISS claims that only 7.3% of the top five highest paid executives at financial institutions in Russell 3000 are ethnic or ethnic minorities. A division of Institutional Partner Services, a proxy-advisory company, according to ESG. That number has risen in recent years, but is much lower than the percentage of minority groups in the general American population.
The notion of a shallow minority talent pool by senior corporate executives and recruiters is often cited as a barrier to promoting diversity, but it also reflects insular professional and social networks.
Lauren Holland, head of a professional network called Wall Street Friends, said she had 8,000 members in minority communities and had sent them more job posts in the past two months than she had in the past five years.
“I get emails every day from people asking me to add them to our list,” he said. “There’s talent. It’s one thing for the company to approach it and connect with it.”
One reason for the lack of diversity in boardrooms and C-suites is that such jobs are often filled by business managers, while many in color are trapped in roles that are not directly related to profits.
“As women and minorities began to gain traction in corporate America, they became entangled in certain jobs, and companies were more comfortable putting them into human resources, management-support type activities,” said Terry McClure, a former public consultant and chief human resources officer. United Parcel Service Inc.
McClure said he often heard comments like Sharf’s when companies did not try hard to find different candidates or provide the experience to qualify for senior roles.
He said some black directors and executives were not happy about the progress made in promoting diversity.
“If I don’t put it into practice in a soap box and ask about every meeting, it will be pushed out,” said Mexican Grill Inc. in Cipot.
Winston said he was often the only person with color in the boardrooms and did not accept the notion of a lack of talent.
One of the Wells Fargo staff said there was no shortage of talent: “I can get 10 to 15 applications from them today.”
(Reporting by Imani Moyes, Jessica Dinapoli and Rose Gerber; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra, Baridosh Bansal and David Gregorio)