Wells Fargo & Co. has been investigating allegations of gender bias in its wealth management division months before about a dozen female executives convened in June to discuss their discontent over the lack of women in senior roles, The Wall Street Journal reports.
A part of the internal probe focuses on a formal gender bias complaint against Jay Welker, president of Wells Fargo's private bank and head of the wealth management division. Welker allegedly told some of the female executives that women should be home taking care of their children. He also often called women "girls" or told them to put their "big girl panties on," according to six of the female executives who attended or had direct knowledge of the June meeting, which was held in Scottsdale, Ariz., the report added.
The female executives claim that qualified women had recently been passed over for top roles in favor of male applicants, and that they felt ignored when they raised concerns, according to the report. Out of the 45 regional managing directors in Wells Fargo's wealth management division, only 12 are women. Above them, overseeing the regions, are seven senior managing directors who are all men, the publication reported.
Welker did not respond to WSJ's request for comment. Wells Fargo spokeswoman Kathleen Leary told the publication the company is "committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business" and that it is "committed to taking any appropriate action" once an investigation is complete.
Prior to the June meeting, the female executives reached out to management about their plan to hold a meeting on preparing women for senior roles to make sure they do not get passed over for top roles. Following the internal conference, the female executives held more discussions and came up with recommendations that they submitted to Welker and Tim Traudt, who is head of regional wealth management. Welker and Traudt acknowledged the female executives' feedback and detailed their next steps, a person familiar with the matter told WSJ.
Wells Fargo is now looking to hold five women-focused wealth management internal events this year in New York, Arizona, Colorado, California and Florida. In comparison, the company held two such events in 2017 and held only one event in 2016, according to the report.