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Bremer Bank announces progress on its racial equity plan


Bremer Bank today announced new hires, employee promotions and additional strategies as it works to fulfill and further its racial equity action plan.

As the community reaction to George Floyd’s killing forced an overdue reckoning on racism in America, Bremer, recognizing both the impact that banks can have on their communities as well as the historical role banks played in enforcing systemic racism, announced the first iteration of an action plan to help build a more equitable path forward. First released in June 2020, the plan defined strategies to drive change both within Bremer and in Bremer’s marketplaces.

Today, the company announced steps it has taken as it works to fulfill the goals identified in its plan, as well as its commitment to additional strategies for 2021.

Promises made, promises kept: Bremer’s progress so far

In December 2020, Bremer welcomed Stephen Spears to its team. With extensive background in financial services, Spears will play a crucial role in leading Bremer to meet its action plan commitment to establish a greater presence to serve the BIPOC community and BIPOC businesses. He will also further Bremer’s declared commitment to strengthen its focus on affordable housing and mortgage lending.

In December 2020, Bremer promoted Tiyo Symalla to a new position as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Leader. Symalla will drive Bremer’s DEI strategies to cultivate inclusive outcomes in Bremer’s workplace, workforce and marketplace. Additionally, Symalla will provide leadership and coordination of Bremer’s vendor relationships as Bremer realizes its commitment to contract with diverse suppliers.

In January 2021, Bremer welcomed DJ Gohl Bergeron as its Talent Acquisition Lead to the Talent Acquisition DEI team, responsible for overseeing the buildout of the talent acquisition team and recruiting process at the bank. Gohl Bergeron will work with Bremer’s leaders and managers to rethink how the organization attracts, assesses and acquires talent in ways that connect with and recruit from diverse talent pools.

Gohl Bergeron and Symalla will serve under Colette Campbell, who in October was promoted to Bremer’s Senior Executive Team in a newly created role as Senior Vice President, Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. They are Bremer’s first Talent Acquisition and DEI team leaders as the new department begins to grow.

In 2020, Bremer committed two executive staff members to join what is now called the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity to advocate for racial and social justice in the business community. The coalition has refined its work since its launch last year, aiming to use foundational structures and resources to accelerate progress toward economic mobility and prosperity, working in partnership with Black Minnesotans.

Expanding the plan: Additional goals for 2021

In March 2021, Bremer laid out additional goals to strengthen and expand its racial equity action plan.

  • Integrating DEI goals into KPIs: In 2021, Bremer is integrating the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals into its defined key performance indicators, ensuring that DEI is an intrinsic part of how the company measures its success.

  • Diversity council: Led by Symalla, Bremer will establish an internal diversity council, responsible for working with Bremer leaders to better understand the diverse talent landscape, to establish goals and to develop strategies with a DEI lens.

  • Diversity supplier program: Bremer will create an official diversity supplier program also led by Symalla, who will help establish Bremer’s vendor connections as Bremer commits to expanding its relationships with diverse suppliers.

More work to do

Bremer continues to come at this work from a place of humility and with an expectation that these strategies will expand and grow. We remain committed to the paving the path forward as we live our purpose of cultivating thriving communities.

About Bremer Financial Corporation

Bremer Financial Corporation is a privately held, regional financial services company with $16 billion in assets, jointly owned by the Otto Bremer Trust and Bremer employees. Founded in 1943 by Otto Bremer, the company is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota and provides a comprehensive range of banking, mortgage, investment, wealth management, and insurance products and services throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Clients include small businesses, mid-sized corporations, agribusinesses, nonprofits, public and government entities, and individuals and families.