The New Roadmap for Corporate Citizenship

How Wells Fargo is redefining corporate social responsibility
Dec 14, 2018 9:00 AM ET

In the 166 years since its founding, Wells Fargo has proved to be much more than a financial services company. It’s an institution that has invested billions in communities all across the U.S., promoted diversity and inclusion initiatives both big and small and led the industry in reducing its own environmental impact.

Overseeing many of these initiatives is Wells Fargo’s Head of Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations, Jon Campbell. Though he took the job soon after the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) division of the company was created – in 2008, around the time it merged with Wachovia – Campbell certainly wasn’t new to the company. “I’ve been with Wells Fargo, in all of its forms, for 41 years,” he said. “I literally graduated from college on a Saturday and then showed up in Omaha, Nebraska, at one of our affiliates, on Monday morning.”

Over the next few decades, Campbell would go on to work for nearly every facet of the company, from the commercial banking space, to credit administration, to even managing branches. This kind of experience has been vital for his current role, because corporate responsibility touches every part of the business, including the carbon output of the company’s servers, the loans the bank provides to low-income families and the needs of the local communities where each bank branch resides.

Though the CSR division is only about a decade old, Campbell’s team has already made impressive headway. The Chronicle of Philanthropy, in a 2018 report, ranked The Wells Fargo Foundation first among financial institutions and second among all U.S. companies for corporate cash donations.

And that was before Wells Fargo announced last year that it plans to target $400 million in donations to nonprofits and community organizations in 2018, a 40 percent year-over-year increase. What’s more, it announced a target of 2 percent of its after-tax income to charitable causes moving forward.

We recently spoke to Campbell about how Wells Fargo chooses its philanthropy projects, what it’s doing to increase access to affordable housing and how it is reducing its carbon footprint.

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