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Caesars Entertainment Unites Supplier Diversity & Sustainability

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by Melissa Lowery

Caesars Entertainment may be best known as a place for adults to play. What you may not know is that beneath the glamour is an organization deeply committed to supplier diversity and sustainability.

A leader in diversity

Caesars is the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment provider and the most geographically diverse U.S. casino-entertainment company. According to company reports, 55% of total employees and 42% of managers are women. In addition, 52% of Caesars employees are from minority groups with 34% of minorities at the manager level. In 2016, for the 10th consecutive year, Caesars earned a perfect rating from the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index.

Diversity within the supply chain is also very important to Caesars, Vice President of Procurement Jessica Rosman said.

“We can’t understand our customers without a diverse supply chain,” she said. “When we’re looking at our customer base – at how we can best serve them – we need the different mindsets and innovations that diverse suppliers bring to the table.”

Caesars engages in a number of initiatives and programs to advance supplier diversity throughout the organization. Outreach is a key focus, manifesting in effective communication, supplier development, mentoring programs and an active role in national and regional councils.

Rosman’s team stays in constant contact with commodities managers, finding out when contracts are coming up for bid and reaching out to the supplier diversity team to find out which suppliers are available to bid. Bidding opportunities are a small part of outreach, however.

“We may not hear about opportunities every day,” she said, “so in order to build a pipeline we have to do a lot more outreach to ensure we’re being as inclusive as possible.”

Face time is tremendously important in building that pipeline. Caesars procurement and supplier diversity personnel frequently attend national and regional supplier diversity events, using email and social media to get the word out to potential suppliers.

Rosman tells the story of a LGBT-certified supplier who attended the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce International Business Conference two years ago who offered recruitment of analytic resources. Although Caesars was interested, it took time to review and better understand the needs during the company’s transition. This last year, after meeting with category manager Lyle Vaughn, Caesars was better able to harness the value of United Global Solutions due to the growing need in analytics and the expansion of his work.

In August 2017, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas will host the NGLCC International Business Conference, and Rosman plans to use the opportunity to reach out to LGBT-certified businesses and encourage them to look at potential partnerships with Caesars at the Tier I and Tier II levels.

“We are avid supporters of the NGLCC,” Rosman said. “The impact [founders] Justin and Chance have made nationally in the communities in which we operate has been tremendous. We’re excited to be hosting this year’s NGLCC conference and interacting with LGBT suppliers here at home.”

Adding sustainability

For an organization already committed to diversity – Caesars regularly revisits its already aggressive goals and investments in supplier diversity – integrating the sustainability element is a cutting-edge expansion of the program.

“We’re looking at how to bring more synergy between supplier development and supplier sustainability,” Rosman said. “Gwen [Migita] is doing some great work in the sustainability space and I’m excited to be working with her to unite these two programs.”

Migita, Vice President Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship, drives sustainability policies and stakeholder initiatives for Caesars’ social and environmental sustainability programs as well as overseeing philanthropic policies, corporate responsibility and public policy positions. She is enthusiastic about combining sustainability and supplier diversity.

“A major segment of sustainability is supporting underrepresented and marginalized populations,” Migita said. “I’ve seen in the past few years that the next level of achieving sustainability goals is going to be through supplier diversity.”

Caesars established a formal environmental sustainability strategy called CodeGreen about 10 years ago, focusing on behavior change, stakeholder communication and engagement, and transparency and reporting. The plan includes goals around greenhouse gas emissions, water management and energy reduction through 2025, which are consistently examined and adjusted based on scientific research and reports. The plan also receives rigorous review from external counterparts, ensuring best practices.

“We always want to test ourselves, to question and challenge whether or not we have a comprehensive and strong strategy,” Migita said.

In 2010, Caesars Entertainment revamped its energy management program and set more aggressive energy efficiency and reduction goals. Already the company is seeing considerable progress – Caesars has reduced energy consumption by 23.4% since 2007 and achieved about $50 million in resource savings annually. In addition, Caesars has begun the deployment of more than one million high-efficiency LED light bulbs across all properties, offices and facilities – every light source. Caesars has also installed occupancy control sensors for lighting, making it easy to turn the lights down lower when the time is right.

Caesars’ Responsible Supplier guidelines clearly articulate the need to and the commitment for the company to support various certified diverse suppliers.

“Jessica saw the intersection between minority spend and spend with local farmers and suppliers,” Migita recalled. “She saw the overlap in supporting, mentoring and developing local supplier relationships and integrating diverse suppliers into the supply chain.”

Now Migita and Rosman are joining forces to educate diverse suppliers in sustainability best practices, providing support as these companies grow and adjust to meet sustainability goals.

“We are constantly discussing areas of intersection,” Migita said. “We’re identifying and improving outcomes that can be worked on by region or sector, such as food waste and transportation.”

With sustainability goals set to come under review again at the end of the year, Caesars is on track to strengthen its commitment to sustainable supplier diversity and the environment.

“As we look to the future, we are focusing on continuing our commitment to creating a diverse and sustainable environment for our communities, our guests, our suppliers and our employees,” Migita said.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.