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How to have real conversations about race within purpose driven organizations?

Laurie Spengler May 26, 2021

Mission and purpose-driven organizations are increasingly turning their focus and efforts to issues of systemic racism and structural inequality. This focus tends to be directed at the external activities of the organization, what they are doing with and in communities to chip away at entrenched barriers towards building a just, inclusive, equitable and environmentally regenerative society. And yet, these same organizations are often reluctant to turn this focus inwards and ask the tough questions about racism and equity at play within their own organizations.

During this session, we will hear from one CDFI bank operating in the Southern region of the US, a region defined by racial divide (and gender inequities), cultural and economic exclusion. Southern Bancorp (“Southern”) works in communities where slavery was “real” and many families from the slavery and Jim Crow era still reside in these markets. Race is not “just beneath the surface” in Southern’s markets, often times it is front and center on top of the surface.

Southern is a high performing CDFI bank in this region, delivering responsible financial products and services to low-income communities. We will hear from Southern’s board chairs, bank CEO, holding company CEO, and Chief People Office, a racially mixed team, who have made an explicit commitment to moving beyond their respective comfort zones and have real conversations about race within Southern and not only within their communities.



Meta Themes

  • Equity & Inclusion


Racial Equity, Power Dynamics, Organisational Culture

Purpose and Desired Outcome

To encourage purpose-driven organizations to frame and hold honest and challenging conversations about race in an effort to build real and lasting inclusivity embedded in the operational, cultural and behavioral fabric of a purpose-driven organization.


  • Corporate & SME

  • Allocators (Family Offices, HNW Individuals, Foundations)

  • Asset Managers

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Intermediaries (Financial Advisers, Investment Bankers)

  • Service Providers

  • Government

  • Academia

  • Accelerators & Incubators


  • NameDarrin Williams
  • TitleCEO
  • OrganizationSouthern Bancorp, Inc
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameGlen Jones
  • TitleChair of the Board
  • OrganizationSouthern Bancorp, Inc
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameJohn Olaimey
  • TitleCEO
  • OrganizationSouthern Bancorp Bank
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameAndrea Parnell
  • TitleChief People Officer
  • OrganizationSouthern Bancorp, Inc
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameDonna Gambrell
  • TitleBoard member
  • OrganizationSouthern Bancorp, Inc
  • StatusInvited
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