Since its days as Harrah’s Entertainment, the newly reconstituted Caesars Entertainment last week published its 2019-2020 People Planet Play Report on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
People Planet Play is the framework underpinning Caesars Entertainment’s CSR strategy, addressing the ways in which Caesars makes a positive contribution to people, the environment and communities through its business and responsible conduct.
In this report, Caesars confirms its purpose-driven approach and commitment to PEOPLE PLANET PLAY as a responsible corporate citizen. This is particularly relevant as the 2019-2020 period has been unparalleled for two main reasons: (1) the successful merger of Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Eldorado Resorts, Inc. that created Caesars Entertainment, Inc. with significantly expanded operations and new leadership, and (2) the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in property closures around the country for several months and a return to work with new protocols and restrictions.
The data included in this year’s report is from 2019 and the first half of 2020, representative of Caesars properties pre-merger. The report also outlines how the newly formed company remains committed to CSR moving forward.
Gwen Migita, vice president of social impact, sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion for Caesars says the merger between Caesars and Eldorado was a positive because each company has similar approaches to CSR.
“This has evolved over the last 20 years at Caesars,” she said in an exclusive interview with GGB News. “We’ve had a lot of support from both cultures.”
Some of that support was for an intense 7 hours of training for board members, along with 60-day program that was attended and completed by all members of the board.
“We’ve trained all the board members about diversity and inclusion,” says Migita. “That is rarely done at that level, at that pace and as extensive we did it.”
The report covers Caesars’ key impacts and achievements in seven key areas, with highlights including:
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): In 2019, Caesars legacy properties had 45 percent women and 35 percent racial diversity in management roles. The combined company has affirmed its commitment to gender and racial equity in leadership and management. The Company also engaged with certified diverse vendors for 17.6 percent of operational and 10.8 percent of capital expenditures.
- Positive experiences for guests: The Company has significantly enhanced its offerings for guests through extensive renovations and expansion of digital services, including enhancements at Harveys Lake Tahoe and Harrah’s Las Vegas as well as completed construction of CAESARS FORUM Conference Center.
- Social impact: Total community contributions in 2019 amounted to $67 million, including the value of 370,000 hours volunteered in local communities by team members. In 2019, Caesars turned every dollar of revenue into a contribution to its communities of 46 cents—nearly four times the average community contribution for U.S. corporations.
- Responsible gaming: Caesars Entertainment celebrated 30 years of Responsible Gaming (RG) leadership in 2019. Caesars created the first comprehensive RG program in the industry, which includes structured RG training for team members. In 2019, nearly 50,000 team members received RG training.
- Family values at work: In 2019, Caesars invested 1.51 million hours in training and development for team members, an average of 27 hours per team member per year.
- Environmental sustainability: In 2019, on a normalized basis per 1,000 sq. ft, Caesars used 2 percent less energy, 3 percent less water and generated 13 percent less total waste than the prior year.
- Governance: In 2020, following completion of the merger, Caesars Entertainment immediately created a new CSR Committee of the Board of Directors. The Committee will drive CSR strategy and oversee CSR and ESG progress, remaining true to the legacy of the past 20 years.
Migita says that there has been support at all levels for the program and its elements. She explains the approach the company has taken and how it communicates the importance of them.
“Diversity means including all shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds, socio-economic classes and all levels of education,” she says. “Inclusion is how you manage diversity. And equity means leveling the playing field. If there’s a fence, and people looking over the fence, some taller, some shorter, equity means that you level the stepping stones to get over that fence.”
Responsible gaming is an important element of CSR. Migita believes the Caesars approach is a cut above.
“Our leadership has committed to a Caesars-centric program, which generally is a much more robust program over and above industry standards,” she explains. “We’re incorporating all of our new properties, like those in Florida and Colorado, that will have Caesars Responsible Gaming Ambassadors so that the culture and engagement we provide for problem gambling can be applied at any property.
“We’re proud that when we came out with our responsible gaming program 32 years ago, the American Gaming Association program was modeled after that, then of course Harrah’s Entertainment. So we remain deeply involved with the developments at the AGA with regards to RG. We’re mutually supportive of each other’s programs.”
As for the environmental elements of the program, she says Caesars has taken a strong stance.
“We’ve got some very aggressive programs that will reduce our carbon footprint by almost 100 percent by 2050. It’s going to take a lot of capital investment and effort, but our leadership has made that commitment.”
In contrast to some observers who believe that CSR programs only come out on the negative side of the ledger, Migita believes it’s completely the opposite.
“We see a very clear ROI from CSR programs,” she explains. “We’ve shown that CSR can increase share of wallet, trips and spend per trip by how you approach it and communicate it to your VIPs and guests. We’ve been doing these evidence tests for six seven years and that has proven to be true.
“We’ve found that CSR affects loyalty and the frequency they might recommend a property. It also affects the way people do their jobs or how they view their jobs and the company. There’s a direct benefit on loyalty, but the causal affect is how they interact with employees of the company.”
The buy in from the corporate level is important, Migita believes.
“We’ve been sharing all this with the new leadership and the revenue generators that come with a robust CSR program,” she says. “And of course it always goes beyond the bottom line to include things like reputation and respect but we do see a lot of really big dollars when it comes to ROI.”
Lots of CSR programs in every industry are just so many words. They are often put on the shelf and ignored for the rest of the year. Not so with Caesars, says Migita.
“We actively evaluate the success of our programs,” she states. “We have about seven or eight standards that we use. And we use a lot of indices like Dow Jones and they give us a great perspective on how we are succeeding. We a lot of internal measures that go pretty deep supplier diversity, supply chains, human rights globally. We keep our pulse on that quarterly but through these annual reports we’re able to quantify the results.”