Wells Fargo on Thursday announced the formation of its stakeholder advisory council, created in the wake of the phony-accounts scandal to offer feedback to the company’s board and senior leaders.

The seven-member council is tasked with advising Wells on the needs of underserved communities, as well as on issues of diversity, inclusion and environmental sustainability. Betsy Duke, who will take over as board chairman on Jan. 1, will lead the group. CEO Tim Sloan will also participate.

“It is important that the top leadership of our company hears directly from our stakeholders, and we look forward from benefiting from the council’s diverse perspectives,” Duke said in a press release. She currently serves as vice chairman.

Elizabeth Duke, former governor of the Federal Reserve and current member of Wells Fargo’s board.
Elizabeth Duke, who is set to become chairman of Wells Fargo on Jan. 1, will lead the stakeholder advisory council. Bloomberg News

Council members include: Michael Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending; Mindy Lubber, president and CEO of Ceres; Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League; Janet Murguia, president and CEO of UnidosUS; Sister Norah Nash, director of social responsibility for the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia; Anne Sheehan, director of corporate governance for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System; and John Taylor, president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

The announcement comes as the San Francisco company struggles to move past the reputational damage caused by its string of retail banking scandals.

Last fall, Wells agreed to pay $190 million to settle charges that more than 5,000 employees created more than 2 million unauthorized customer accounts to collect sales bonuses. That number was revised upward in August, to 3.5 million. Wells also revealed problems this summer with the way it charged borrowers for auto insurance and interest rate-lock extensions.

Notably, the roster announced Thursday includes members who have been vocal critics of the company over the past year.

At Wells’ annual meeting in April, for instance, the California State Teachers' Retirement System voted its 11.6 million Wells shares in opposition to nine of the company’s 15 board members. All of the directors on the ballot won their elections, albeit some by a slim margin.

Additionally, Sister Nash offered a shareholder resolution at the meeting calling for an external review on the root causes of Wells’ aggressive sales culture. The resolution was voted down with just 22% of the shareholder vote.

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Kristin Broughton

Kristin Broughton

Kristin Broughton is a reporter for American Banker, where she writes about the business of national and regional banking.