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A Look at Caesar's Employee-Driven Approach to Sustainability

<p>Caesars Entertainment, the world&#39;s most diversified gaming company, doesn&#39;t play games when it comes to its commitment to environmental stewardship.</p>

Caesars Entertainment, the world's most diversified gaming company, doesn't play games when it comes to its commitment to environmental stewardship.

Adopted in 2000, CodeGreen is a significant part of the company's philosophy and articulates the corporate ethos, guides their relationships with stakeholders, and steers their business operations for a winning combination.

With 52 resorts (36 in the U.S.), Caesars bases its broad-reaching programs on its Code of Commitment, pledging to:

  • Employees - to treat them with respect and provide them with opportunities to build satisfying careers;
  • Guests - to promote responsible gaming; and
  • Communities - to make them healthy and vibrant places to work.

"Caesar's Code also states their belief in responsible stewardship of the environment and their commitment to environmental sustainability and energy conservation," said Gwen Migita
, Director of Sustainability & Community Engagement, while presenting at the 2012 GreenBiz Forum in New York. "By engaging employees, operational improvements also enhance attractiveness to customers and increase the brand value." The Code Green pillars of sustainability strategy include:

  • stakeholder communication and engagement;
  • core environmental performance indicators;
  • organizational commitment and alignment including synergies to drive the sustainability mission;
  • adoption of best practices;
  • leveraging scale; and
  • coordination of owner programs, resulting in enhanced brand value and customer loyalty, costs savings, revenue growth, community pride, and employee satisfaction.

Developers of the sustainability program realized that process and people take years to develop. Therefore, sustainability is embedded in training. General surveys include sustainability questions. Programs are not mandated, but rather ask for input. Leadership-backed benefits include incentives for managers. Employees can even win credits for fulfilling home-based initiatives, while earning incentives for sharing information with other employees. One employee in Arizona, for example, built a heat transfer unit on her roof.

As part of the overall program, the Caesar's Code Green Toolkit is sent to managers as a road map for success with month-to-month schedules, outlines of responsibility, measurement frameworks, themes, and rewards. Various programs include an early recruitment campaign to find local green leaders. Communications are consistent and constant with emails, grassroots efforts, town hall meetings, stickers, newsletters, and posters.

Refreshments are served -- that is, refreshments of previous campaigns -- every four to six months. If the current month has an energy-saving campaign, for example, then in four to six months the message will be refreshed and supported with promotion items such as candies and stickers.

A utility leader "champion" is designated at every location site, reporting savings, thereby creating healthy competition between properties. This competition creates "best practices," which are shared with other properties. Easy wins are prioritized first for early successes. Caesars has already been able to invest more than $62 million in energy efficiency programs.

Regarding their social programs, the Caesars Foundation contributed $250,000 for a soap recycling facility to be brought to Las Vegas for the non-profit Clean the World, which takes soap, sanitizes it and then sends it to third world countries. Staff collected over 100,000 lbs of soap in Caesars' hotel rooms in 2011. Signage in guest rooms states, "Your soap saves lives," reinforcing a positive message.

Caesars also partners with communities to address local needs. Harrah's, a Caesar's property, was instrumental in developing Green Chips, a new nonprofit organization that coordinates sustainability initiatives in southern Nevada. By bringing large employers, governments, nonprofits, and electric utilities together for discussion and planning, the group has created a 12-month "Convene for Green" roundtable to develop a regional sustainability roadmap.

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honored two Caesars Entertainment resorts, Bally's and Paris Las Vegas, with the Gold Achievement Award for implementing successful comprehensive waste reduction programs. Together, the resorts recycled 417 tons of cardboard, 25,690 pounds of glass, 36,745 pounds of plastic, 20,800 gallons of recycled kitchen oil, and 150,000 pounds of paper.

"A company can affect behavior from the outside in," said another conference attendee Marla Thalheimer, Sustainability Manager Liberty Property Trust Corporate Office, "but employees and grassroots efforts work it from within for complete, holistic success."

Caesar's understands how to build the sustainability brand from within by engaging people in ways that generate synergy and build scale. And that is a winning combination.

Caesar's Palace photo via Shutterstock.

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