Editorial Page1 Blackhurst – Jan 2018

January 19th, 2019

BlackhurstOur Exclusive Guest Editorial

Why Corporate Responsibility Matters to the Gaming-Entertainment Industry
By Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President, Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility, Caesars Entertainment 

Most people believe companies should do more than make a profit – they want to see companies addressing social, environmental and economic issues in their communities and beyond. For example, 78% of people said whether a company stands up for important social justice issues is something they’ll consider when making a purchase decision. 

At Caesars, we’ve long been committed to standing up for social justice issues, from immigration to LGBTQ rights. We’ve also had a longstanding environmental sustainability program, CodeGreen, which engages and empowers team members at our casinos and hotels to reduce water, waste, energy and GHG emissions. Our PEOPLE PLANET PLAY commitment is at the heart of our company, providing direction for each and every one of us to behave with integrity and care for our colleagues, our communities and the environment. 

Of course, many companies are doing similar work – it’s practically table stakes for doing business today. As the many Nevadans who work in this industry know, however, proving that companies in gaming and entertainment can be (and are!) good corporate citizens can be harder than other industries. I’d argue the standards are higher for us than for, say, a food company or a clothing retailer. The onus is on us to prove how a casino will, first and foremost, bring jobs. And bring jobs, we do – in 2016, 82.3% of our employees were full time, and the vast majority had a permanent (vs. temporary) contract. Further, our industry is the state’s biggest taxpayer and biggest employer. 

Economic benefits go beyond jobs, of course. We’re a huge supporter of public education in Nevada. Our HERO volunteers work in classrooms to teach students about financial literacy and sustainability. I’ve worked with Core Academy since its founding to give disadvantaged students support to reach their full potential. And finally, Caesars Foundation supports Teach for America through HERO volunteers – and $725,000 in funding to date.   

Here are two key ways Caesars operates as a responsible corporate citizen for our communities, our industry and our nation.

Leading Responsible Gaming

Is Responsible Gaming an oxymoron? Not at all, but it does spark the interest of a lot of people. Gambling is a form of entertainment, just like visiting a museum or attending a sporting event. We want it to be a conscious choice that people make for the right reasons. Our goal for Responsible Gaming is simple: We want everyone who visits our casinos or online gambling sites to simply have fun. It’s also a shared responsibility for not only our industry, but for governments, regulatory bodies, the community and individuals. 

We take responsible gaming seriously, and have been leaders in this area for more than 25 years. We were the first to address problem gambling and established Operation Bet Smart®, a program designed to formally train employees on the importance of responsible gaming. In 2016 alone, we trained nearly 50,000 team members in policies and protocols to assist guests who may have a gambling problem. 

Creating Equality

To most Americans, being a good employer is one of the most important things a company can do. From creating well-paying jobs, to promoting from within, to celebrating diversity, we strive each day to be a good employer. Our recent announcement to achieve gender equality among our leadership ranks by 2025 is one I’m personally proud of. To achieve this, we’re creating the Equality Council – a taskforce of employees and external experts to help implement unconscious bias-training across all management teams. We have a strong track record in this area with creating equality and equity for LGBTQ team members and have received a perfect score on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 11 years running.

We do this work because it’s the right way to do business and also because it helps people and their local governments know that we’ll be a good addition to the community. Like every company, there is much more to be done on this journey, but we’ve made good progress – in 2017 we were named to the Civic 50 list of the most community-minded companies by Points of Light for the third time, and came in first in our category of consumer discretionary spending. I know we’re up to the challenge to find new and impactful ways to be community-minded today and in the future.