Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 16 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.
Taking a holistic look at a company and CEO
As expected, our recent article on Wells Fargo drew a critical response bashing John Stumpf and management.
It's all fun and games to beat up on John Stumpf now, but when our country needed him — in the depth of the financial crisis when Wachovia was failing — John Stumpf was able to integrate Wachovia without losing most of their team members or their successful culture (a very difficult thing to do). In the following five years, the combined team has been able to grow the bank's revenue by another third. In addition, if you held onto your Wells Fargo stock through the crisis, you didn't lose any money.
Further, despite the incredible hours he must have been putting in with his management team on integrating Wachovia as well as navigating the crisis and recession, he focused on diversity — he hired Jimmie Paschall (who, despite her sunny demeanor, is a demanding, focused and intense executive) and dramatically improved their performance in offering opportunities and developing people inclusively. In the past five years, Wells Fargo has risen from number 26 on our Top 50 list to number 12. An amazing accomplishment, considering everything they were going through as a company, but I have personally seen how this was an integrated and holistic approach to business, led by John Stumpf himself.
You'll notice I spoke about business before diversity. That's on purpose. John Stumpf treated diversity as a business subject and executed as well as he did on everything else. Yes, huge mistakes were made in the consumer bank — but John Stumpf, after having a bad appearance in front of the Senate, has turned around and given back a huge portion of his income and the retired head of consumer banking has done the same. I have no doubt Wells Fargo will make it right with all of their customers who were wronged — and I understand efforts are also underway to try and make it right with employees who got caught up in this mess.
In the interest of full disclosure, Wells Fargo does business with my company. I do business with them. They are about 2 percent of my gross revenue, which means I could write a column saying John Stumpf is the devil himself and the resulting loss of business would not be meaningful to me. I respect John Stumpf; I think he's a great businessman and American. Especially for those of you interested in diversity, Wells Fargo is a good company and they do good things for the community and I am proud to be a customer of theirs.