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Integrating CSR with diversity, equity and inclusion at Caesars Entertainment

The gaming and entertainment company is upping the ante on all of these concerns.

Are any companies integrating CSR and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in a holistic way? Caesars Entertainment is certainly betting that it’s the right strategy.

Caesars envisions this integration as a strategic differentiator, and its story offers lessons to other companies seeking to make a meaningful impact in both arenas.

If we take care of our people, they’ll take care of us

As the world’s third-largest and most diversified gaming and entertainment provider, Caesars’ business is all about people — from the 115 million annual guest visits to the 63,000 team members worldwide who create memorable experiences for those guests.

The guests, team members and the communities in which the $8 billion company operates help shape its corporate social responsibility platform, which includes three pillars: People; Planet; and Play. Wrapped into that platform are policy and political action, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts, environmental sustainability, community, and engagement and compliance.

As head of CSR, I am concerned about how siloed these issues have become within organizations, as well as how narrowly companies consider the topic of diversity.
Gwen Migita, global head of social impact, equity and sustainability at Caesars, described the core premise of the company’s DEI approach: "It’s a business imperative to include local and diverse suppliers, workforce and customers in our operations throughout the enterprise. It’s also our responsibility to drive social-economic equity as a social license to operate."

Caesars has found that CSR and DEI are mutually reinforcing: DEI and CSR have driven team member engagement by up to 7 percent, and Migita said team member engagement is the "rocket fuel" that launches the gaming and entertainment company’s CSR efforts. "The foundation of our success rests in encouraging and engaging our workforce around job purposing," she said.

How Caesars combines CSR and DEI

Migita explained that Caesars has expanded the scope of its DEI initiatives beyond the traditional focus on workforce development. The company’s goal is to embed this mindset into everyone’s daily work across the organization. The company also looks for specific opportunities to leverage DEI and sustainability together.

Caesars does this by embedding DEI concerns across five pillars: workforce and workplace; supplier and contracting diversity; community reinvestment; marketing and sales; and policy and advocacy.

Each pillar has related goals and strategies tailored to engage employees at all levels, as well as people across the company’s value chain, including suppliers, guests, communities, and policymakers. This means DEI is embedded into everything from recruitment to workplace culture to benefits to supplier programs to volunteer activities and donations to marketing and branding to responsible meetings to political advocacy. 

For instance, Caesars offers a Mentor Protégé Program that assists diverse businesses with all of the steps they need to qualify as a Caesars supplier.

When it comes to community investments, the company and its foundation embed DEI by partnering with diverse non-profit organizations. For example, Caesars Foundation selected the National Park Trust as a grantee because that organization has a program that reaches underserved kids, connecting them with national parks to learn about the importance of being outside.

Through Caesars’ policy advocacy strategy, the company is focusing on issues linked to DEI, such as abuse and exploitation of vulnerable groups. In one advocacy effort, Caesars partnered with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for a convening on human trafficking, a key CSR issue in the hospitality industry. 

The foundation of our success rests in encouraging and engaging our workforce around job purposing.
The efforts will pay off as individuals and groups not accustomed to collaborating start to see opportunities for integration and unique ways to approach solutions, according to Migita.

Caesars hopes the ultimate outcomes will include a shift in how ESG investors synthesize and measure inclusion and equity impact on company performance, for example. Another long-term success metric that Caesars is watching is reversing the growth of inequities among communities of color. 

"As head of CSR, I am concerned about how siloed these issues have become within organizations, as well as how narrowly companies consider the topic of diversity. Typically, public policy, DEI, social impact and environmental sustainability are handled by distinct groups, whereas we believe finding connective threads among the areas is critical to enacting meaningful change," Migita said. "Only when we’re all in the same room, recognizing and appreciating how environmental issues uniquely affect communities of color, for example, will we be able to design systemic and collaborative solutions." 

People matter 

Ultimately, Caesars’ integration of DEI and CSR puts people first, Migita said.

The approach acknowledges that people power the company’s CSR programs, and the company’s DEI initiative sends a clear signal to everyone that they matter — they are critical to the success of the company’s CSR goals and the future success of the company.

Caesars’ focus on people gets in front of a broader trend happening across large companies, where diverse employee groups are speaking out and holding their employers to account on social and environmental issues ranging from immigration to gun violence to gender and racial equality to climate change. A diversity of people and viewpoints are represented in these movements.

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