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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Leadership Blind Spots at Wells Fargo

By Susan M. Ochs
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted October 06, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

This leadership blind spot is the result of misguided reverence for their culture and its ability to inoculate the bank from systemic problems. It represents a governance breakdown of the highest order for executives and board members. But it appears that some red flags never even reached them: Investigations revealed the bank has ignored, discouraged, and even fired employees who tried to voice concerns about the intimidating culture and unethical practices.

In the worst cases, whistleblowers claim they were fired after reporting violations to the bank’s ethics hotline or trying to alert supervisors to illegal behavior.  Concerns raised by other employees were reportedly ignored, including an alleged email sent to Stumpf directly, and a petition, signed by 5,000 colleagues, that sought to lower sales quotas and combat unethical conduct. Stumpf called the firings “regrettable” and assured Congress that the bank has a policy of non-retaliation against whistleblowers.

But the damage goes beyond the employees who were terminated — it sends a signal to everyone else that they should keep quiet. At best, problem-raisers will be ignored; at worst, they will lose their jobs. Why risk it? If the bank doesn’t care, why should they?

The article is here.