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Businesses with Diverse Talent Perform Better: Fiona Gallagher, Wells Fargo

Fiona Gallagher is CEO of Wells Fargo International Bank UC (WFBI). WFBI provides support and services to Wells Fargo’s clients in all European Union and European Economic Area countries. WFBI is the only Wells Fargo bank entity outside of the U.S. and is a critical part of Wells Fargo’s European and international operations. Fiona joined WFBI in October 2019. Prior to this, she was Deutsche Bank’s Head of Securities Services and Chief Country Officer for Deutsche Bank Ireland. Fiona gives an account of what D&I means to Wells Fargo and how companies can better retain talent by giving their employees a sense of belonging.

Tell us a bit about your current role/professional background.

I joined in October 2019 as the CEO of Wells Fargo Bank International (WFBI), which is Wells Fargo’s European 27 lending bank.  Before joining Wells Fargo, I worked 15 years at Deutsche Bank where I held a number of positions in London and Dublin. These included global head of Securities Services and Chief Country Officer for Ireland; global co-head of Coverage for Institutional Cash and Securities Services; global head of Relationship Management, Capital Markets and Treasury Solutions (CMTS); and global head of Private Placements.  There was lots of travel as you can imagine! Prior to Deutsche Bank, I worked in New York for Barclays Capital and Merrill Lynch.

Why is diversity and inclusion important within an organisation?

Wells Fargo sees diversity as hugely important. It forms part of the company’s core Vision Values and Goals, and we believe through the culmination of diverse perspectives that we discover the creativity to overcome any challenges to success. Moreover, many studies have highlighted the positive effects of a diverse workforce and leadership structure, proving that diversity leads to better business performance, greater resilience and adaptability to change.  More than diversity & inclusion it is also about making people feel like they belong.

How can an organisation promote an inclusive culture?

Wells Fargo as an organisation is constantly striving to promote an inclusive working culture. Here are some recent examples:

  • From November 2019, all employees at Wells Fargo have access to online diversity and inclusion training, which includes an advanced ‘unconscious bias’ course.

  • The senior female leaders at Wells Fargo continue to inspire and engage up-and-coming female talent through a number of events and initiatives such as participating in mentoring programmes, hosting networking events and live webinars focusing on diversity & inclusion and speaking on panels (internal and external). Sharing our personal stories and highlighting both the successes and the challenges we have all faced can help to encourage our team members to set higher goals for themselves, which will enrich their lives and our company.

  • Seventy-five EMEA leaders have attended our in-person “Gender Acumen Matters” immersive diversity and inclusion programme in London, which brings male and female leaders together to examine difference and identify previously un-perceived inequalities. This programme involved a considerable time investment (two full days) and has received positive feedback from all involved.

It is not only gender that contributes to inequality in the workplace and Wells Fargo recognises this. Led by team members, our D&I Council  has introduced a number of programmes to help support team members in EMEA, such as:

  • A pilot programme for team members with care responsibilities that included face-to-face training for parents and carers about to take or returning from parental leave along with their line managers. The programme covers coping strategies and touches many issues that affect working parents and carers. Additional face-to-face coaching was also made available to all team members on a variety of family-related topics. This pilot was successful and it will be offered as an automatic benefit for all team members in the near future.

  • From January 2020, Wells Fargo rolled out an enhanced parent and carer support package across EMEA, which includes an increase in company maternity and adoption pay from 16 weeks to 26 weeks at full pay, alongside enhancements to our shared parental leave pay arrangements. In addition to increased leave, Wells Fargo also increased the provision of free emergency back-up child and elderly care sessions to all team members from 6 fully paid sessions per year to 10 sessions per year. We have also made an on-line parental leave toolkit available for team members who are taking parental leave.

  • From January 2020 our private healthcare policy has been enhanced to include fertility treatment for all team members; and eligible dependents now have access to Wells Fargo funded GP services.

How can a leadership team ensure a commitment to diversifying their workforce?

At Wells Fargo, we are doing this by continuing to ensure that we think about diversity from the start, by walking the walk, not just talking the talk. As mentioned before, at Wells Fargo, diversity and inclusion is built into our values, and although that can be said of many organisations, at Wells Fargo, words become actions.  For example, in a predominantly male industry, they have chosen me to lead WFBI – the only other licensed Wells Fargo bank outside of the U.S. Our new EMEA Executive Committee is comprised of 47% women, so we are well represented. Nevertheless, there’s still more to do!

How can an organisation improve its D&I hiring strategy?

Personally, I’m a great believer in blind recruitment. This allows you to judge applicants on their merits and expertise and removes any unconscious biases a recruiter may have.

What do you think are the biggest obstacles that an organisation may face when implementing a D&I strategy? Do you have any examples?

In my opinion, overcoming deeply entranced biases and inequalities is one of the biggest obstacles an organisation can face, as these biases are predominantly unconscious.

Caroline Criado Perez has written a great book called “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias In A World Designed For Men” where she outlines how gender politics are affected and enhanced by gaps that have led to male-biased big data. As part of International Women’s Day/ Women’s History Month in March, I’m hosting a speaker event with Caroline at the Wells Fargo offices in London to discuss her findings and explore what we can do to make a change.

What efforts has your organisation implemented over the years to promote a more inclusive culture?

As I’m pretty new to Wells Fargo, I can only comment on recent events. To me the creation of the EMEA D&I Council last year was a hugely positive step.  Our D&I Council is made up of a broad range of team members, and these representatives recognise what needs to be done and are empowered to drive D&I initiatives in EMEA. Since the launch, we’ve had some great wins, including a fantastic customer facing event with LGBTQ+ leader & Paralympic Athlete Claire Harvey.

How does a lack of a D&I strategy effect employees individually? What effects does it have on office culture?

In my mind, there’s no doubt that businesses with a diverse talent perform better and are more resilient. Employees need to feel included and have a sense of belonging, so by having a diverse and inclusive culture an organisation can attract a far wider talent pool. Moreover, by companies giving their employees a sense of belonging, they can retain this talent. Essentially, it’s just common sense really!

Fiona Gallagher joins us on the panel for our next WWMB D&I event on Thursday 5th March.  Please note this event is now sold out, register for waitlist tickets at

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