Colette Campbell is directing efforts to advance Bremer Bank’s racial-equity plan in her new role as a senior executive team member and senior vice president of talent acquisition and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Campbell, who joined Bremer in 2017 as director of talent acquisition and diversity, moved into the job in early October.

Campbell said her work now involves an enterprise-level focus on Bremer’s workforce, banking practices and community involvement as the organization makes progress on the racial-equity action plan that President and CEO Jeanne Crain announced in June, citing George Floyd’s killing.

One opportunity, Campbell said, is playing a bigger role in helping businesses damaged in the unrest that followed Floyd’s death. Another is addressing the disparity between Black and white homeownership.

Having a workforce that’s more representative of the community is important too, Campbell said. Bremer, which has 1,600 employees in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, is about 10% minority, she said.

Campbell, who grew up in Canada as the daughter of Jamaican parents, said she identified with Otto Bremer, a German immigrant who founded the bank, headquartered in St. Paul, in 1943. The Otto Bremer Foundation and Bremer executives, directors and employees own Bremer Financial Corp., the parent company of the bank, which has $13 billion in assets.

“All of that felt like the right type of place that I would want to be in, that matched a lot of the passions and interests that I have,” Campbell said in an interview.

Bremer is proud to invest in Campbell’s new role, according to Crain.

“It is especially clear today that we must take tangible actions to address generations of systemic racism and its structural repercussions,” Crain said in a news release. “Colette’s thoughtful and purposeful approach is exactly what we as an organization need to make real impact in this work.”

Q: What appealed to you about this opportunity?

A: I’ve been interested in financial services from the standpoint of who is in financial services, who is benefiting economically and how do I help to educate, inform and inspire others, particularly minority groups. Bremer felt like a great fit to bring my collective experience as an HR and business professional to, but also for the passion I’ve had around bringing awareness to communities of color, helping them to be fully contributing, to be beneficiaries of wealth and of their own human development.

Q: How has the pandemic affected inclusion, equity and diversity efforts?

A: The work of inclusion, the work of seeing others is, I think, even more paramount than it’s ever been because in our humanness we want to and we really are very focused on ourselves and taking care of ourselves, where this work is actually thinking about not only ourselves but taking care of others. The pandemic I would say has heightened the need and awareness for keeping this top of mind even more.

Q: Where would you like to see Bremer in this journey in the next few years?

A: That we are growing in our representation but also in our retention. I’m seeing that my job, I think, evolves and almost doesn’t exist because equity is on everybody’s agenda and equity is something that everybody is being measured by. It just becomes a part of who we are and how we operate. That’s what I see as a successful future.

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.