Editor’s note: In a letter published in the 2017 Wells Fargo Corporate Social Responsibility report, Jon Campbell, head of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations for Wells Fargo, discusses the company’s refreshed CSR priorities, shares new initiatives, and reviews progress made over the past year.
As a global financial services company — and one of the nation’s largest small business lenders, residential mortgage providers, and corporate cash donors — we understand our role as a community supporter and the positive impact we can have on society and the environment. This report reflects the hard work of the Wells Fargo team to fulfill our company’s vision of helping customers succeed financially while also being a leader in corporate citizenship and helping create more equitable, financially self-sufficient, and resilient communities.
As part of our transformation into becoming a better, stronger company, we continue to evolve and enhance our approach to corporate social responsibility to ensure we are integrating responsible business practices throughout our global business operations and effectively responding to significant CSR matters. We are building on a strong foundation of investing in our team members, communities, and sustainable business operations, while maximizing our ability to make an impact in ways that benefit Wells Fargo and all of our key stakeholders.
As Wells Fargo President and CEO Tim Sloan addresses in his letter, we remain committed to achieving our 2020 CSR goals, which you will learn more about in this report. At the same time, we took steps in 2017 to refresh our CSR priorities in light of changes in our business, new board and executive leadership, and heightened stakeholder feedback on current and emerging socioeconomic and environmental trends.
“We took steps in 2017 to refresh our CSR priorities in light of changes in our business, new board and executive leadership, and heightened stakeholder feedback on current and emerging socioeconomic and environmental trends.”
Our third CSR materiality assessment (PDF) since 2009 included a series of interviews with internal and external stakeholders who helped us understand and prioritize topics with the highest importance to our business and our stakeholders in the context of today’s environment. The results validated our existing priorities that will continue to comprise our CSR strategy:
- Diversity and social inclusion: Help ensure that all people feel valued and respected and have equal access to resources, services, products, and opportunities to succeed.
- Economic empowerment: Strengthen financial self-sufficiency and economic opportunities in underserved communities.
- Environmental sustainability: Accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon economy and help reduce the impacts of climate change.
The assessment also highlighted issues that have increased in impact to our company and stakeholders, including, for example, ethical practices and culture, corporate governance, human rights, and climate change risk management. We take our commitment to continuous improvement seriously and plan to integrate these findings into our work.
“We take our commitment to continuous improvement seriously.”
The evolution of our CSR strategy is also reflected in our board’s establishment of an external Stakeholder Advisory Council to provide the board and management with stakeholder perspectives on current and emerging issues. The council — which consists of experts and advocates focused on consumer rights, fair lending, the environment, human rights, civil rights, and governance — will help us ensure we are considering social responsibility matters that are important to customers and others in our philanthropy and day-to-day operations. We look forward to benefiting from the council’s diverse perspectives and experiences, which will be instrumental in our efforts to continue enhancing our CSR strategy, programs, policies, and actions.
I’m also optimistic about the actions we took in 2017 to more strategically align our products and services, operations, and philanthropy to address social and global challenges. Because these issues are complex and require long-term solutions, we increasingly recognize the importance of working with others who can help maximize the breadth and depth of our reach and impact. In 2017, the Wells Fargo Foundation — in collaboration with business and product groups as well as nonprofits and other stakeholders — launched several multiyear initiatives, including those focused on:
- American Indian/Alaska Native communities: The company announced a five-year, $50 million commitment to help address the current needs and challenges facing indigenous communities in the U.S., including community outreach and financial education programs, and efforts to bring renewable energy and clean water to tribal communities.
- Building resilient communities: We launched a four-year, $10 million Resilient Communities program with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help cities enhance and protect natural habitats and prepare for, withstand, and recover from natural disasters associated with changing sea levels, water quantity and quality issues, and longer fire seasons.
- Employment: We committed $18 million to United Way Worldwide to help 1 million people find jobs over the next five years. The idea is to expand access to steady employment, which is key to achieving financial self-sufficiency and income mobility.
- Diverse small businesses: Wells Fargo will target investing $100 million over three years, beginning in 2018, to expand the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program, which provides capital to Community Development Financial Institutions to increase their lending and technical assistance to diverse small businesses.
I’m especially proud of our relationship with NeighborWorks® America, community-based nonprofits, and city officials to revitalize low- and average-income neighborhoods through NeighborhoodLIFT® and other LIFT programs. The program, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2017, has already delivered $372 million in down payment assistance grants, homebuyer education, and program support to more than 52,500 people — most with average or below-average incomes. And more than 15,800 LIFT program homeowners have purchased more than $2 billion in real estate nationally. Because of the success of this program, which we’ve replicated 57 times across the U.S., we are doubling our investment in NeighborhoodLIFT to $75 million in 2018.
These are just a few examples of how we are collaborating with community organizations and others in the private sector to empower individuals and families to change for the better. I encourage you to read the many other examples throughout this report.
In closing, I want to acknowledge that the past two years have been challenging, but I’m confident that we’ve learned from our mistakes, and we will become a better, stronger Wells Fargo. Looking ahead, we will continue seeking opportunities to further integrate CSR throughout our business and are committed to being transparent with you about our progress.
Thank you to all of the team members, customers, community partners, suppliers, and others who continue to work alongside us as we carry out our commitment to becoming the financial services leader in corporate citizenship while helping to build better, stronger communities.
Head of Corporate Responsibility and Community Relations
Wells Fargo & Company