Wells Fargo understands that to be successful, the company must be as diverse as the customers and communities it serves. Promoting diverse representation via its supplier population is a key part of Wells Fargo’s focus on disability-inclusive culture and communities. The bank commits significant resources to support the development and engagement of certified disabled-, minority-, women-, LGBTQ-, and veteran-owned businesses and small businesses.
A key priority of Wells Fargo’s supplier diversity strategy includes leveraging learning opportunities to build capacity. A top sponsor of the Disability:IN conference for the past six years, Wells Fargo has played a leading role in funding Disability:IN’s Affiliate Supplier Diversity Initiative. The initiative provides micro grants to fund disability-owned business enterprise (DOBE) programs across the U.S. and supports affiliates by helping them grow supplier diversity programming.
“The affiliates are well-positioned to build awareness and bring together companies and community business organizations in support of disability-owned businesses,” said Regina Heyward, Head of Supplier Diversity at Wells Fargo and Vice Chair of the Disability:IN Board of Directors. “When these businesses are given the opportunity, they’re contributors to the economic growth and well-being of our local communities.”
Another significant initiative for people with disabilities is Wells Fargo’s Supported Employment Program (SEP) that matches people with disabilities to its supplier network.
Implemented by Wells Fargo’s Corporate Properties Group, Supply Chain Management, and Human Resources function, this program works with third-party service providers, and local and vocational agencies to match candidates with physical or mental disabilities to job openings in a variety of Wells Fargo locations. On-site job coaches support associates who receive prevailing wages for positions not specifically targeted for people with disabilities.
“We started this program in the third quarter of 2017, filling three positions in a single market,” said Kathy Sanders, Business Support Manager at Wells Fargo. “As of March 2020, we’re on track to connect over 60 candidates with disabilities to viable employment at 12 certified firms in 17 key markets by end of year.”
Wells Fargo takes an active role in matching vendors with fully vetted agencies in areas where it has significant operations. “We reach out to agencies that place people with physical and cognitive disabilities and make them aware of this opportunity. If they meet the qualifications outlined in our Request for Information process, we provide the bridge to the potential employer,” Sanders said. “The agency typically provides a coach for the candidate, guiding them through what is most often an unfamiliar ‘new job’ experience. Once they’ve determined it’s a good fit, the candidate is hired.”
Sanders continues, “Through this program, participating vendors have seen their employee turnover rates drop from an average of 35% to around 13%. What’s most gratifying, though, is the sense of accomplishment these employees have when they receive, what for many of them is their very first paycheck. It’s remarkable!”
Together, Disability:IN and Wells Fargo are helping local communities embrace entrepreneurship and employment.
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Follow Wells Fargo’s Roadmap to engage with DOBEs: