LEE I’m responsible for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, all of
community banking—over 460 branches, nine business banking teams,
about 5,500 team members in total, about $100 million in revenue.
There are 11 lead regional presidents in Wells Fargo with the
acquisition of Wachovia. I report to Laura Schulte, who is the president of Community Banking for the East Coast. She reports to Carrie
Tolstedt, who is the head of Community Banking for the company.
On my expanded leadership team, there are 21 people: 12 are
women and four of those women are African American.
VISCONTI What do you think about the bank and its ability to relate
to people, to be successful in a very demanding marketplace?
LEE One of our key priorities is our focus on our communities
and stakeholders. In order to be successful, our workforce has to
reflect their diversity. Wells Fargo having so many women in senior
management roles helps us interpret and form the company around
what’s important to our stakeholders.
When I go into my stores, I don’t just see white men as my customers. I see their wives; I see single women; I see single mothers; I
see working women; I see women in business.
John Stumpf, his leadership team and his direct reports are very
deliberate about getting the voice of our team members. It’s not
about having more people than the next organization; it’s really
about having more engaged people.
People are engaged when they feel like they are valued, that a
company gets them and that we’re not trying to homogenize everybody. When you feel that your leaders, your mentors, the decision
makers of the company value your opinion, they seek it out.
Ultimately, that leads to helping our customers succeed financially. [For] any company, regardless of the industry that figures that
out, I think it’s a difference maker.
VISCONTI I’ve seen the results of Wells Fargo’s engagement surveys.
How deep down do they survey the people who report to you?
LEE We survey down to every team member that is part of the organization. Not only do we assess where we are but then each team builds
an action plan to address areas where we could do a better job.
What I really like about our process is that we get the opinions
and voices of our team members, ultimately solving for areas where
we have opportunities or building on strengths. The team members
are engaged in figuring out what the action plan is and then holding
themselves and each other accountable to it.
VISCONTI Let’s talk about diversity management. What are the
things that have struck you as being particularly effective?
LEE Building competency around diversity—it’s a skill that you
build. Where you are along your journey is so colored by what your
Executive Vice President and Northeast
Regional President, Wells Fargo, No. 33
in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies
É Bachelor’s degree, music and applied
voice, Boston Conservatory of Music
PREVIOUS PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
É Executive vice president, group retail
banking executive, Wachovia
É President of the Marion P. Thomas Charter
School Foundation in Newark, N.J.
É Board member, The Newark Alliance,
YMCA of Greater New York, and the Alvin
Ailey Dance School Foundation
É Native of Newark, N.J.
É Pianist, composer, choir director,
playwright and poet
background is, what your culture is.
We’re willing to apply some resources
around developing leadership skills, to set
expectations with leaders that they become
competent as it pertains to diversity and
inclusion. Not to have it be this sort of separate thing that we do because it’s the right
thing to do but making it an integrated part
of our business practices.
Most corporations will say that our ability
to grow, our ability to sustain, is tied to our
ability to create a diverse and inclusive environment. How does that actually translate
to the bottom line? How do you build it into
your day-to-day business practices?
Understanding demographics, the different
needs of your customers, how their backgrounds and culture might drive their needs
and desires differently—how, as a company,
regardless of your product, do you respond
to those needs and not have diversity be this
thing that’s sitting off on the sideline?
Is it in your recruiting practices? Are you
looking to attract diverse talent? How do you
on-board a person with a diverse background
differently? How do you support that person
differently so that they can be successful in
VISCONTI Your organization realized it. How
did it happen here? Why was it successful?