DEI 2021: A Look Back on 18 Months

Over the past eighteen months, our journey to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at Opus, in our industry, and in our communities, continues. Our focus and efforts are grounded in the knowledge that assembling a diverse team supports and strengthens the innovation, creativity, and respect that collectively enables us to deliver on our mission and exceed the expectations of our stakeholders. A focus and efforts that are fueled by a group of associates and leaders who are passionate about driving positive change and impact; and supported by the commitment and engagement of our Executive Leadership Team.

Opus Diversity Equity Inclusion Action Team

The Opus Diversity Equity Inclusion Action Team (DEIAT) is a group of associate volunteers, supported with executive co-sponsorship from myself and Kelli Justesen, Vice President of Human Resources. Our time together in 2020 and 2021 was spent largely listening, learning – both internally, through actions like listening sessions and surveys of our associates, and externally, through engagement in community and industry groups like the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity and Concerned Builders of the Twin Cities. Our primary goal was to understand the current state and the opportunities to improve our culture of DEI so we could craft a plan for meaningful long-term action. We also engaged an external DEI consultant to partner with us and help us navigate this journey.

In 2021, this work continued, with a focus on driving impact through four primary streams of work, as well as on ongoing education and capacity building for Opus leaders:

  • reinforcing and strengthening an inclusive, welcoming and respectful workplace
  • assessing and evolving recruitment, hiring, onboarding and retention policies and processes
  • diversifying our supply chain and subcontractor sourcing
  • engaging with nonprofits and other organizations in the industry and our communities to support and actively contribute to existing DEI work in meaningful ways
These work streams resulted in teams delivering countless ideas and opportunities to impact DEI within Opus and beyond. Together, we charted our course based on our collective experiences, insights, and expertise, and these ideas were used to craft our 2022 DEI action plan.

Opus Foundation​®​ Addressing Racial Equity

Additionally, over the past two years Opus team members have been closely engaged with the Opus Foundation's focus on supporting racial equity through its work. During this time the Opus Foundation approved over $2.8 million to address racial disparities and support systemic change across the country. The Foundation also elevated racial equity as a priority and foundational principle and has operationalized this commitment through changes to its guiding principles, the make-up of its Board of Directors to bring more DEI leadership expertise, and its grantmaking policies and processes – including awarding longer-term grants and seeking impact investment opportunities that support racial equity. One example of a long-term award is the recent $1.5 million multi-year grant to the University of St. Thomas​ to support increasing diversity in commercial real estate (CRE) at the University and ultimately within the CRE industry. Examples of impact investment opportunities include investments supporting affordable housing and helping close the wealth creation gap.

Looking Ahead

As we look ahead, we see 2022 as the year to lay the foundation and infrastructure needed to not only start moving the needle on DEI now, but to support accelerated performance for all the years to come; and to drive meaningful results and measurable impact across our focus areas for long-term sustained performance.

The case is clear that diversity fuels performance and drives winning organizations. Data shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform the financial performance of those in the lower quartile by +25%, and those in the top quartile for racial diversity by +36%. There are statistics across all aspects of business demonstrating how diversity supports better innovation and creativity, more effective decision making, higher revenue and cash flow, and greater employee engagement, just to name a few.

At Opus, we see the value of bringing diverse views manifested by diverse experiences to the table to create the best solutions every day in our business – not coincidentally, that's what our unique, integrated design-build delivery model is all about. And it's what fuels Opus to deliver on our mission by empowering yours, which is exactly why we're committed to integrating and elevating diversity, equity, and inclusion at Opus, and within our industry and the communities where we live and work.


Every voice brings unique perspective and value and collectively can make our world and workplaces better. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) serve to amplify everything we do; a culture and environment that actively values DEI makes us stronger, more creative, more competitive, sustainable, and just plain better. Learn more about our DEI work

Filed Under: DEI, Community Initiatives