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Wells Fargo Ends Investigation into Alleged Gender Bias in WM Unit

By Alex Padalka November 9, 2018

Wirehouse Wells Fargo has stopped its investigation into allegations of gender bias in the company’s wealth management business, people familiar with the matter tell the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the investigation in September.

The investigation had been prompted by several senior executives alleging women in the company’s wealth management division were systematically denied opportunities afforded to men and were often belittled.

The Journal’s story purportedly led to an “influx” of more gender bias complaints, which in turn caused Wells Fargo to broaden the scope of the investigation, sources tell the paper.

Earlier this week, the Journal revealed that Jay Welker, head ofWellsFargo’s private bank as well as its wealth management division, was retiring in March.

Welker had been one of the people Wells Fargo was investigating following allegations he told women to put their “big girl panties on” and said that women should stay home to take care of children.

But on a call with managers last week, Jon Weiss, head of wealth and investment management and Welker’s boss, said “there is unequivocally no gender bias” in the wealth management unit, sources tell the Journal.

Weiss tells the paper through a spokeswoman that he had spoken to hundreds of managers in the unit and that his “goal was to affirm that there is no tolerance for gender bias in our organization.”

He also said employees who feel they’re treated in a way that’s inconsistent with Wells Fargo’s values can contact him directly, according to the Journal.

The gender bias investigation lasted several months, which is far longer than the six weeks the company normally dedicates to internal inquiries, sources tell the paper. The investigation passed through the hands of four different executives in human resources, they say, according to the Journal.

Welker didn’t respond to the paper’s request for comment. A Wells Fargo spokeswoman tells the paper it takes all allegations seriously, meanwhile.

“We ensure that concerns raised are thoroughly and objectively investigated, while taking measures to protect confidentiality,” Kathleen Leary tells the Journal.

Wells Fargo’s wealth management unit had previous allegations of gender discrimination, the paper writes. A female executive who made claims of gender bias around 2014 and sought hundreds of thousands of dollarssettled with Wells Fargo out of court, a person familiar with the matter tells the Journal. She no longer works there, according to the paper.

(Getty)

Wells Fargo’s wealth management unit, just like the overall organization, has had some major changes since the 2016 revelations that employees in the retail banking unit opened millions of bogus accounts. The wealth management division has lost more than 1,000 advisors since then, and in addition to the announcement of Welker’s retirement, the company sent out another internal memo in the past week, announcing the merger of its private bank and Abbot Downing, Wells Fargo’s ultra-high-net-worth unit.