A Wells Fargo bank sign. Image courtesy of Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

Wells Fargo & Co. plans to commission an external, third-party racial equity audit that the bank said would focus on the the communities it serves and its workforce.

“Commissioning this work is a critical next step in reinforcing our commitment to racial equity and closing the wealth gap in this country,” Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said in a statement. “DE&I is an imperative at Wells Fargo, and we consistently strive to measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable. This important work will build on our efforts to lead in all aspects of DE&I in our company and in the communities we serve.”

The assessment, which will include input from internal and external stakeholders, will be conducted by Covington & Burling LLP, a law firm with experience leading civil rights and racial equity audits across various industries. The bank, which has more than 50 branches in Connecticut, said it plans to publish the results of the assessment by the end of next year.

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that Wells Fargo put job candidates through interviews to satisfy the bank’s diverse slate guidelines, even though the candidates would not be considered for the job.

The bank in its statement said that 45 percent of its U.S. employees were racially and ethnically diverse as of December 2021. Wells Fargo also said that approximately 9 percent of U.S. executives – defined as within three levels from the CEO – were Black, up from 5.8 percent in December 2020.