Opus Women’s Network Making an Impact, Advocating for Women

“After joining Opus, I quickly sought out Employee Resource Groups as a way to meet people within the company, and I was thrilled to find out about the Opus Women's Network," said Anna Bode, Manager of Real Estate Development and Co-Chair of Opus Women's Network (OWN). “After attending a few events I was drawn to the community and support system that OWN created."​

Now seven years old, OWN 's mission is to empower and foster the development of women at Opus through connections, learning and advocacy. OWN hosts quarterly events focused on personal and professional development, stewardship and networking. The events typically have an in-person and virtual component to encourage participation across all of our offices. OWN has brought in a variety of external speakers to present on resiliency, relationship building, leadership and productivity, along with internal presentations to learn more about each other and how we can better work together within Opus. A book club has continued to meet almost every quarter since October 2018, reading and discussing books on a wide variety of topics, including leadership, change, confidence and self-awareness.

“OWN was created out of a grass-roots effort to help women feel more supported and connected at work, and that is still why we exist today," Anna said.

Associate Resource Groups

OWN is an Associate Resource Group (ARG), voluntary, associate-led collaborations formally supported by the organization and created based on similar identities, interests or backgrounds to provide opportunities to network, develop and create a more inclusive workplace. They provide a variety of benefits to the company and the employee participants, including improving working conditions, allowing people to build relationships and building next-generation leaders.

These are usually called Employee Resource Groups. As we are collectively referred to as associates, we refer to these as Associate Resources Groups. At Opus, we have existing ARGs and guidelines to empower associates to create and resource future groups.

OWN's founders and Executive Sponsors provide more insights on ARGs.

“OWN is a valuable resource that encourages women at Opus to support and empower one another as we navigate our unique and collective experiences within a shared organization and industry," said Kim Noonan, Chief Brand Experience Officer. “It also offers a space to foster interactions and relationships that ultimately help facilitate insights, advocacy and inclusion across Opus, as teammates, regardless of gender."​

Beth Duyvejonck, Regional Vice President of Construction, adds: “Associate Resource Groups provide a network of associates and connection to resources that historically underrepresented populations may not receive as naturally and readily as their peers. ARGs increase the experience of belonging and engagement for members and support a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. Also, because OWN is cross-functional, the group promotes teamwork, innovation and collaboration between our business units."

OWN Evolves for the Future

In 2021, Anna Bode stepped forward as a co-chair for OWN. Previously, OWN didn't have an official chairperson; this addition of co-chairs is keeping the group organized and mindful about the future while also focusing on their mission.

“It's been exciting to pass the virtual baton to Anna as a new co-chair," Kim said. “She eagerly volunteered to take on the role and hit the ground running with lots of fresh new ideas. She brings strong dedication to our purpose, a unique perspective, a great collaborative spirit and energy as a group leader."

In 2022, OWN added another new face – the group welcomed Dennis Power as a co-Executive Sponsor.​

“Working with OWN has provided me the opportunity to observe the high level of commitment and the strong drive for excellence embedded in OWN," said Dennis Power, Chief Financial Officer. “Beth and Kim built a strong foundation, and Anna has stepped up and continued the momentum by delivering quality content for women to enhance their strengths and further their development."

“I am excited for the opportunity to help OWN achieve their goals while also developing stronger relationships with the key contributors of the group," Dennis continued. “I have worked with many of these women before, but OWN is a different setting which provides me with a different perspective on the how we can make Opus better."

OWN's Executive Sponsors will further advance the third tenant of OWN's mission – advocacy – by ensuring company leadership, priorities and strategies support and reflect the full mission of OWN. Ultimately, the additional executive sponsor role will be mutually beneficial for OWN and the sponsor.

“I'm excited for Opus," Beth said. “And I'm grateful for Dennis stepping in, as we work together to learn and develop as more inclusive leaders."

The idea to have a male co-chair came from another OWN activity – the book club in December 2021. The group read and discussed Where You Are Is Not Who You Are by Ursula Burns. Burns was the first Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. During her time at Xerox, Burns was a member of an ERG for Black employees. She wrote about how the company had executive sponsors for these groups who were different from the group's makeup. The sponsor would connect the ERG to senior leadership and vice versa.


“It can seem discouraging because there is still progress to be made toward equity for women, but having the support from Opus and our Executive Leadership Team are great steps in the right direction," Anna said. “I look forward to advancing those efforts through OWN and building upon the strong momentum that is a result of the hard work of many to get to this point. It is exciting to see the positive changes we are fostering within the Company and the ripple effect it has on our associates and the industry as a whole."  

Filed Under: DEI