Catalyst for Change: New leadership to drive DEI initiatives to further success

April 19, 2024
(From left) Elise Weiss, Ritu Dewan, Marc Oppen

A rejuvenated action council is now in place to blaze new roads on the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) journey.

Under the leadership of Senior DEI Director Natacha Jacque, ESFM and Eurest’s Diversity & Inclusion Action Council (DIAC) helps foster and maintain a culture of belonging and serves as a catalyst for change.

Made up of DEI champions, the ESFM & Eurest DIAC is an action-oriented, voluntary employee advisory committee that carries out DEI strategies, aids in recruitment and hiring initiatives to empower diverse talent and supports DEI programming. Most importantly, the DIAC members genuinely care about making sure everyone thrives and has a seat at the table.

“When people feel like they can bring their true and authentic selves to work then they bring their best selves to work,” Jacque said. “I want people to understand that DEI is not just here for the moment, it’s here for a movement.”

One of Jacque’s early initiatives since becoming the DEI leader was to ensure that the DIAC was built for long-term success. To this end, new leaders have recently been appointed: an executive sponsor and co-chairs representing each of the sister Compass Group sectors, ESFM and Eurest.

Meet the new DIAC leadership below:

Ritu Dewan, Senior Vice President – Eurest Mid-Atlantic Region
DIAC Executive Sponsor

Ritu DewanOver 13 years with Eurest, Dewan has “created her own career blueprint as a woman of color in an organization known for its global diversity.” Serving as a senior leader for national accounts and now leading Eurest’s Mid-Atlantic Region, she has made it a priority to build a diverse team from the top down and has been an influential champion helping shape Eurest’s diversity platform.

Passionate about creating diverse and inclusive spaces, Dewan values connecting with people and works to establish environments where teams can thrive. Dewan believes in prioritizing a business and people strategy and stresses the importance of having teams that reflect the communities we serve.

“We all need to be intentional about connecting, embracing and celebrating everyone within our sphere,” Dewan said. “DEI cannot be treated in silos or on as-need basis. It needs to be integrated as a way of life.”

Question: What do you hope to bring to the table in this role?

Answer: My vision is to integrate DEI into the business strategy where it is a natural and organic thought process and not an afterthought or a reaction. The role will allow me to create difference on a larger scale. It is my hope that we will continue to build on the great work done by our previous council. I believe we are at an inflection point in the organization as it relates to our DEI efforts, and I am committed to being part of the journey.

Describe your DEI approach in three words.

For me, DEI is a “mindset and journey”

What is a unique, fun fact about you?

From a very young age, I started travelling and have visited over 30 countries. I was always fascinated by local cultures and cuisines and connecting with people from all over the world.


Elise Weiss, ESFM HR Manager
DIAC Co-Chair

Elise WeissAs an accomplished human resources professional, Weiss is on the frontlines of engaging ESFM’s people every day. During her six years with ESFM, Weiss has continuously grown her impact and influence. In addition to leading HR support for a major life sciences account she also manages ESFM’s participation in the GULL program, developing frontline associates for career advancement opportunities.

A desire to help the underrepresented feel acceptance and a sense of belonging is what inspired Weiss to join the DIAC.

“Being a part of two marginalized groups myself — female and LGBT — I understand the limitations that occur when it doesn’t feel safe to be your authentic self,” she said. “We all deserve to work and live in an environment free of bias/judgement and full of acceptance and belonging.”

With a mission to elevate a collective feeling of belonging, Weiss encourages the celebration of differences.

“As Maya Angelou said, ‘Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.’ These words ring true, in general and in the workforce.”

Question: What do you hope to bring to the table in this role?

Answer: I hope to bring innovative solutions and drive initiatives that will be impactful throughout all levels of the workforce. My hope is to also be a role model of authenticity and a trend-setter in the area of having a mindful approach. We make the best and most compassionate decisions when we can remain grounded, centered and in the present moment. 

Describe your DEI approach in three words.

Authenticity. Synergy. Acceptance.

What is a unique, fun fact about you?

I’m a yoga teacher, and just finished my second YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) in India, the Motherland of Yoga.


Marc Oppen, Eurest Regional Director of Operations
DIAC Co-Chair

Marc OppenThroughout his more than six years with Eurest, in which he worked his way up from district manager to running operations for the entire Mid-East region, Oppen has consistently prioritized inclusion and celebrating associates. He is among the division leaders in employee recognition program participation.

Inspired by his grandparents, who were Holocaust survivors who came to the U.S. in search of freedom and a fresh start, Oppen hopes to honor their legacy by creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for all people.

“I am in awe of what they battled through and achieved,” Oppen said. “I know we have many associates and managers who come from different countries, different upbringings, different education levels, and different economic situations.”

Oppen understands the importance of DEI both from a personal standpoint but also a business one.

“Our people are our most valuable asset and it is imperative to our business from both a financial and a cultural opportunity that we retain, and develop, our associates,” he said. “By creating an environment that our associates feel welcome and appreciated, and see the opportunity to advance their careers in, we not only develop a winning and inclusive culture, but we produce much greater financial results allowing us to re-invest in the growth of the company.”

Question: What do you hope to bring to the table in this role?

Answer: I hope to provide some guidance and leadership that will bring the group together working toward similar and focused goals. The DIAC should be champions of awareness, education and change with regards to diversity and inclusion. In my day-to-day work and personal life, I create achievable goals for myself and my team with measurable timelines and expected results; I want to bring this same mindset and direction to the DIAC.

Describe your DEI approach in three words.

Education, Belonging, “Walk the Talk”

What is a unique, fun fact about you?

Just about anywhere I travel to, both domestic and abroad, I run into someone I know.