By Dale Madison
In 1864, Henry Wells, founder of Wells Fargo Bank said, “We have one very powerful business rule, it is concentrated in one word: Courtesy.” It’s nice to see that, 144 years after the death of Wells (who also started American Express), that watch word is still very much alive in the bank that bears his name.
The Wilton M a n o r s branch (or “store,” as the company calls its local operations) at Five Points has something of a Gayborhood b a c k s t o r y .
Construction on the b u i l d i n g — located at the conjunction of Wilton Drive, Dixie Highway, and Northeast 26th Street— was started around three years ago, but there was a lengthy gap in construction times. Then all at once, or so it seemed, the building was completed, occupied and staffed as if it had been part of the local scenery for ages.
In June, the Five Points Wells Fargo store participated in the Stonewall Summer Pride Festival and Parade, entering the cavalcade with a beautiful stage coach drawn by four stunning horses. “As a symbol of our heritage, image, and values, we have re-created these beautiful coaches,” says Wilton Manors store manager Mitch Bloom. “We have these placed around the country. The one this year used at Stonewall was brought from Atlanta,” he adds. “Jack, the dog on top of the coach, is so amazing. He is the brother of the original mascot, Jack, who died last year.”
Bloom is proud of his company’s commitment to LGBT rights, and their involvement in the community. As Bloom relates it, twenty five years ago, Wells Fargo made a commitment to create a welcoming workplace environment for LGBT team members. In 1987 Well Fargo included “sexual orientation” in its corporate nondiscrimination statements, and in 1992, the 160-year-old financial services company’s legendary stagecoach made its first LGBTcentered appearance at Los Angeles Pride.
Within the decade (1998), they extended benefits to domestic partners. In 2004, they added “gender-identity and expression” to the non-discrimination policy. In 2010, they became a lead sponsor with GLSEN’s Safe Space campaign, funding 15,000 “Safe Space Kits” to help protect children across the country.
“Wells Fargo has a Pride Team Members Network, which is comprised of not just the LGBT community, but also those who are allies and friends,” says Bloom. “They come out in droves to help with any event that we have. I am the vice president of the team, and am so proud to serve. We have over 70 active members, and they are out there whenever there is an event.” Bloom and his team members keep Henry Wells’ commitment to courtesy and community involvement in the forefront of their minds.
“We are having at least one team at the Poverello Bowl-A-Thon on August 11, and we will have a booth there to answer questions.”
Bloom says that Wells Fargo is committed to helping the individuals who comprise our village in these trying times. “Our Opportunity Package allows someone a new opportunity to have a checking and savings account,” he explains. “If you have had problems with credit, some banks shut you out of the system—that’s not the way we work,” adding, “Every person needs a second chance.”