Corporate Responsibility...Beyond the Bottom Line

By Ron James, Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC)

The financial services industry is facing major headwinds in the form of legislative and regulatory reforms, litigation, a slowly recovering economy and the need to rebuild consumer trust. Despite these headwinds, Wells Fargo has been redefining its responsibility beyond the bottom line. Jon Campbell, executive vice president and director of Social Responsibility Group at Wells Fargo and Company, shared insights as he delivered the closing keynote address at the Building and Benefitting from an Ethical Organizational Culture Conference held at the University of St. Thomas.

“To be clear, Wells Fargo lives and operates on a vision and defined set of values that date back over several decades.” These values focus on the importance of its people, its customers, its communities and its shareholders. This commitment to its values that shape its culture has been sustained through leadership transitions and expansion through acquisitions.

But as financial services have become more complex, Wells Fargo is sharpening its focus on its existing stakeholders and embracing its responsibility to additional areas such as environmental stewardship.

In sharing many stories about the Wells Fargo journey, Campbell left the audience with four important steps in the process: (1) stakeholder engagement – listening to and understanding the unique needs of your constituents; (2) governance – aligning the responsibilities and engagement of the board of directors and executives with the individual business units in carrying out social responsibilities; (3) courageous conversations – building internal partnerships that share the responsibility for addressing the difficult issues together; and (4) transparency – openly and honestly telling your story.