Wells Fargo Now Accused of Also Conducting Fake Job Interviews

2016: “Wells Fargo Fires 5,300 Employees For Creating Millions of Phony Accounts”
2017: “Up To 1.4M More Fake Wells Fargo Accounts Possible”

The headlines kept coming…. (“Wells Fargo Hit With ‘Unprecedented’ Punishment Over Fake Accounts…” “Wells Fargo Employee Informed the Bank of Fake Customer Accounts in 2006”)

But this week the New York Times reported a new allegation — involving fake job interviews:

Joe Bruno, a former executive in the wealth management division of Wells Fargo, had long been troubled by the way his unit handled certain job interviews. For many open positions, employees would interview a “diverse” candidate — the bank’s term for a woman or person of color — in keeping with the bank’s yearslong informal policy. But Mr. Bruno noticed that often, the so-called diverse candidate would be interviewed for a job that had already been promised to someone else. He complained to his bosses. They dismissed his claims. Last August, Mr. Bruno, 58, was fired. In an interview, he said Wells Fargo retaliated against him for telling his superiors that the “fake interviews” were “inappropriate, morally wrong, ethically wrong.” Wells Fargo said Mr. Bruno was dismissed for retaliating against a fellow employee.

Mr. Bruno is one of seven current and former Wells Fargo employees who said that they were instructed by their direct bosses or human resources managers in the bank’s wealth management unit to interview “diverse” candidates — even though the decision had already been made to give the job to another candidate.

Five others said they were aware of the practice, or helped to arrange it…

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Staff At London Law Firm Can Work From Home Full-Time — If They Take 20% Pay Cut

Staff at a top London law firm have been told they can work from home permanently â” but they will have to take a 20% pay cut. The Guardian reports: Managing partners at Stephenson Harwood are offering lawyers and other staff the option as City firms try to move beyond solely office-based working in a post-pandemic cultural shift to flexible and remote models. Junior lawyers at the company have starting salaries of 90,000 pounds, meaning anyone taking up the officer would lose about 18,000 pounds. Stephenson Harwood, one of the top 50 highest earning legal firms in the UK and with its headquarters in London, employs more than 1,100 people and has offices in Paris, Greece, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. A spokesperson for the firm told the Times that the new working policy would apply to staff at its London office and most of the company’s international offices. Partners will not be eligible, though. Full equity partners receive an average of 685,000 pounds annually.

The new salary sacrifice for full remote working policy is being introduced after the company’s experience of recruiting lawyers during the coronavirus pandemic who were not based in London, where living costs tend to be higher. However, the company said it expected only a few staff to take up the full-time work from home option because “for the vast majority of our people, our hybrid working policy works well.” Staff already have the option of working remotely for two days a week. “Like so many firms, we see value in being in the office together regularly, while also being able to offer our people flexibility,” the spokesman said.

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Russian Tech Industry Faces ‘Brain Drain’ As Workers Flee

mspohr shares a report from the New York Times: In early March, days after Russia invaded Ukraine and began cracking down on dissent at home, Konstantin Siniushin, a venture capitalist in Riga, Latvia, helped charter two planes out of Russia to help people flee. Both planes departed from Moscow, carrying tech workers from the Russian capital as well as St. Petersburg, Perm, Ekaterinburg and other cities. Together, the planes moved about 300 software developers, entrepreneurs and other technology specialists out of the country, including 30 Russian workers from start-ups backed by Mr. Siniushin. The planes flew south past the Black Sea to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, where thousands of other Russian tech workers fled in the weeks after the invasion. Thousands more flew to Georgia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and other countries that accept Russian citizens without visas.

By March 22, a Russian tech industry trade group estimated that between 50,000 and 70,000 tech workers had left the country and that an additional 70,000 to 100,000 would soon follow. They are part of a much larger exodus of workers from Russia, but their departure could have an even more lasting impact on the country’s economy. The long-run impact may be more significant than the short-run impact,” said Barry Ickes, head of the economics department at Pennsylvania State University, who specializes in the Russian economy. “Eventually, Russia has to diversify its economy away from oil and gas, and it has to accelerate productivity growth. Tech was a natural way of doing that.” Before all this started, Russia had such a strong technology base,” [Artem Taganov, founder and chief executive of a Russian start-up called HintEd] said. “Now, we have a brain drain that will continue for the next five to 10 years.”

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Amazon Workers Made Up Almost Half of All Warehouse Injuries Last Year

Amazon workers only make up a third of US warehouse employees, but in 2021, they suffered 49 percent of the injuries for the entire warehouse industry, according to a report by advocacy group Strategic Organizing Center (or SOC). The Verge reports: After analyzing data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the union coalition found that Amazon workers are twice as likely to be seriously injured than people who work in warehouses for other companies. The report considers “serious injuries” to be ones where workers either have to take time off to recover or have their workloads reduced, following OSHA’s report classification (pdf) of “cases with days away from work” and “cases with job transfer or restriction.” The data shows that, over time, the company has been shifting more toward putting people on light duty, rather than having them take time off. The report authors also note that Amazon workers take longer to recover from injuries than employees at other companies: around 62 days on average, versus 44 across the industry.

Amazon employees have said it’s not the work itself that’s particularly dangerous but rather the grueling pace the company’s automated systems demand. Amazon actually had workers go slower in 2020 to help combat COVID-19, which accounts for the notably lower injury rates that year. But, as the report notes, the injuries increased by around 20 percent between 2020 and 2021 as the company resumed its usual pace — though the injury rates for 2021 were still lower than they were in 2019. […] Unfortunately, this study’s results tell the same story we’ve been hearing for years. Even with its reduced injury rates in 2020, Amazon workers were still hurt twice as often as other warehouse workers, according to SOC. Further reading: Amazon Workers At 100 More Facilities Want To Unionize (Yahoo Finance)

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Bigger Sound In Smaller Packages, As Sonos Buys Mayht For $100 Million

Sonos has acquired Dutch startup Mayht for approximately $100 million in a cash-only deal. “Mayht created a new type of speaker technology that makes it possible to pack a lot more oomph into much smaller spaces, with power savings as a nifty side-effect,” reports TechCrunch. “Specifically, it created a new type of transducer — the foundational element within speakers that create sound. Mayht has re-engineered them to enable smaller and lighter form factors without compromising on quality.” From the report: Interestingly, outside of some reference speakers, the Mayht team was never planning to put its own products out to market, clearly flirting with existing speaker giants for an acquisition. Sonos liked what it saw and decided to put a $100 million ring on it to consummate the relationship, acquiring the startup. The acquisition was formally announced today.

“Mayht’s breakthrough in transducer technology will enable Sonos to take another leap forward in our product portfolio,” said Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos. “This strategic acquisition gives us more incredible people, technology and intellectual property that will further distinguish the Sonos experience, enhance our competitive advantage, and accelerate our future roadmap.” The Mayht team, in turn, was also pretty psyched to find a corporate partner to bring its tech to market. “We are very excited and proud to become a part of Sonos,” said Scheek. “Our dream has always been to set a new standard in the audio industry. The integration of our technology into Sonos products will further revolutionize high quality sound.”

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‘We Probably Pissed Away $200 Million,’ Better.com CEO Told Employees In Layoffs Meeting

When Better.com CEO Vishal Garg laid off 900 employees, or about 9% of the company’s staff, in early December, the startup world was shocked with his callous delivery. Now a video of Garg and CFO Kevin Ryan addressing the remaining employees right after the chief executive performed those layoffs has emerged, confirming many reports of his brash style and harsh words about those affected. TechCrunch reports: In a video obtained by TechCrunch, Garg is seen addressing the layoffs and in the process, admitting to making a number of mistakes. We chose not to publish the video in an effort to protect the identity of the source, but we’ve picked out the most relevant bits based on a transcription of the 12-minute meeting. About two minutes into the meeting, Garg says: “Make no mistake we did also eliminate redundant roles — who might be strong performers but were in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong task, and weren’t mission critical.”

After about four minutes, Garg also acknowledged that the company was continuing to hire, including some interns, in the midst of the layoffs, while at the time making a thinly veiled threat: “…It’s because we expect those people to be super productive and add value, and if they don’t we will exit them too.” He added: “We are going to be leaner, meaner and hungrier going forward. We will not be spending time trying to raise capital. We will not be spending time focused on what investors think. We will be spending time grinding this business forward in what will likely be a bloodbath in the mortgage industry in the next year or two.”

In the video at around the 8-minute mark, Garg admits to not being disciplined in managing the company’s cash and in its hiring strategy, which helps explain the company’s second mass layoff of over 3,000 people just three months later. It also helps support multiple sources’ claims that the company is currently “losing $50 million per month.” “Today we acknowledge that we overhired, and hired the wrong people. And in doing that we failed. I failed. I was not disciplined over the past 18 months. We made $250 million last year, and you know what, we probably pissed away $200 million. We probably could have made more money last year and been leaner, meaner and hungrier.” He also explicitly says that the company lost $100 million in the previous quarter, saying it was his “mistake” for not laying off staff earlier.

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Google Offers Employees Free Electric Scooters To Get Them Back To the Office

Google is preparing to bring its employees back to the office this week, and as an added bonus, it’ll be offering them free electric scooters to help ease the transition. The Verge reports: The tech giant is teaming up with e-scooter maker Unagi to launch a new program called “Ride Scoot,” in which most of Google’s US-based workers can get reimbursed for the full cost of a monthly subscription to Unagi’s stylish Model One scooter. The Model One, which retails for $990, is a lightweight dual-motor scooter with a top speed of 20mph and a range of 15.5 miles. Unagi founder and CEO David Hyman said the idea was to help Google employees get to work — or even just to the closest bus stop. (Google famously provides free shuttle bus service to its employees in Silicon Valley.) “They know there’s apprehension amongst employees,” Hyman said. “People got really accustomed to working from home. And they’re just trying to do everything they can to improve the experience of coming back.”

Unagi won’t just be handing out free scooters to every Google employee, though. Unagi plans on setting up booths at various Google offices to sign up employees for a monthly scooter subscription at the discounted rate of $44.10 per month, plus the $50 enrollment fee — the total of which will be fully reimbursable by Google. Scooter subscriptions will also be added as a transportation option to Google’s internal employee portal. And Google and Unagi will host demo days for employees to try out the Model One at various office locations.

Employees must also use the scooter for at least nine commutes per month to get fully reimbursed for their monthly subscription. (Google plans on using the honor system and won’t be tracking employees’ scooter usage.) In addition to Google’s main headquarters in Mountain View, other eligible locations include Seattle, Kirkland, Irvine, Sunnyvale, Playa Vista, Austin, and New York City.

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