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Wells Fargo defends policies after report of alleged gender bias

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Wells Fargo said it thoroughly investigates all complaints of impropriety after a report said the company is failing to treat some of its female employees fairly.

“We take seriously any allegation raised by a team member, or against a team member,” Kathleen Leary, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement Friday. “We ensure that concerns raised are thoroughly and objectively investigated, while taking measures to protect confidentiality.”

Wells Fargo is conducting an internal investigation into complaints of gender bias in its wealth-management business, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier Friday.

The unit, which is led by Jay Welker and falls under Jon Weiss’s wealth and investment management arm, handles clients with more than $2.5 million, according to an investor presentation earlier this year. Under Welker, Tim Traudt heads regional wealth management and has seven direct reports ― all men. Reporting to them are 45 regional managing directors, 12 of whom are women, according to Leary.

“Once an investigation is complete, we are committed to taking any appropriate action,” Leary said in the statement. “At Wells Fargo we are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business, which we believe is essential to engaging our team members, customers, communities and shareholders.”

The investigation comes amid a spotlight on how companies handle gender discrimination as the #MeToo movement gathers momentum. Banks have gone relatively unscathed in the past year, partially due to the popularity of employment agreements that prevent complaints from becoming public.

Bloomberg News