Megan M. Kalina
Case Proposal - Wells Fargo Account Scandal
Case Proposal - Wells Fargo Account Scandal St. Catherine University has a strong Catholic Identity Statement that is based on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teaching (CST). As a business professor at St. Catherine University, and a believer that mission is at the heart of all we do, I work towards integration of CST within the curriculum. One way to transform business practices is to establish CST as the foundation of our business programs. The following case, and analysis through the CST lens, integrates business practices with CST. I have written a case on the cross-selling/fake accounts scandal that came to light in 2016 for Wells Fargo. Over 2 million accounts were opened by Wells Fargo employees which were never authorized by customers. This case focuses on understanding the toxic business practices that set the stage for this scandal as well as looking at the impact on employees (those that opened unauthorized accounts and those terminated because they questioned the practice), customers, and executives. The case provides enough information that students will be able to explore a number of ethical issues related to this scandal while not overwhelming them with complex details. This case is current, familiar to many students, and fairly straightforward. The analysis of the case will be completed through the CST lens. Students will be asked to read the case, and as a team, spend time reflecting on it. After thoughtful discussion, teams will complete an assignment form. The columnar form includes each CST theme along with a brief definition. The column requiring team completion will be to identify how each CST was violated in the Wells Fargo case. Each team will also provide an alternative to the actions taken at Wells Fargo that would have CST at its heart. My objective is to provide an opportunity for students to explore CST deeper and gain insight around what that looks like in a business situation. This case will allow students to see where CST was disregarded and the resulting impact of those decisions. Business decisions are frequently viewed through the CST lens. This was not the case at Wells Fargo. In business programs, ethics is often discussed in generic terms and faculty may hesitate to make the explicit connection to mission and CST. A case goal is that students will obtain more clarity around how faith values affect employees, customers, business transactions and what good work looks like. As this is a participative session, colleagues in the session will read the short case. There will then be participant discussion about what students might identify as CST violations. I would like to open up a conversation with the following questions: • How can a case like this help establish a foundation of CST within a business curriculum? • What does working for the common good look like from a student’s perspective in a situation such as Wells Fargo? • Seek suggestions on how to lead student analysis to heighten the connection of CST with business practices at Wells Fargo or other companies.