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Organizational Change
How Caesars Entertainment Drastically Augmented its ESG Impact

‘Job purposing’ is making meaningful contributions to others or societal causes as part of regular work. Caesars showed that helping its sales and conventions departments job purpose was a promising pathway to dramatically augmenting its ESG work — and, thus, its positive societal impact.

What do the sales, procurement and ESG (environment, social, governance) functions have in common? Accelerating social justice is unlikely anybody’s answer, yet Caesars Entertainment has earned the right to give it. (Full disclosure: I’m an ESG advisor to the company’s leadership.)

The 2018 Caesars corporate social responsibility (CSR) team, led by Gwen Migita, saw the need for convening a cohort of corporate brands and key nonprofits to accelerate progress on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) across corporate America. The CSR department, however, did not have the budget for such a pricey event. The team’s stroke of genius was realizing that the meetings and conventions department already held events that might be redesigned to meet the identified DEI need — specifically, the department hosted representatives from Caesars’ key business partners at a Caesars resort every year to showcase the company’s meetings and conventions prowess, relationship-building and sales. The question the CSR team put to their meetings and conventions colleagues was, “What if your sales events included the social-purpose objective of accelerating DEI in corporate America?”

The meetings and conventions team was excited to promote justice as part of its everyday work. It also thought pursuing ESG as part of its annual sales meeting might help it deepen brand loyalty and reach new prospects. The procurement department similarly considered the CSR team’s idea a promising way to build relationships and work more effectively with vendors, their key stakeholders.

As a result, the three departments — meetings and conventions, procurement and CSR — worked together to hold the first Caesars DEI Summit in October 2019 at the Paris Las Vegas resort. 48 leaders from companies and nonprofits attended — including 100 Black Men of America, Amazon, AT&T, Constellation Brands, Disability:IN, Microsoft, Siemens, Sysco, US Black Chambers and the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Against the backdrop of Caesars’ hospitality, attendees shared best practices, challenges and ideas for advancing DEI. They also gathered in small groups to problem-solve DEI challenges and created four cross-sector task forces to continue the work started at the Summit.

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Did the 2019 Caesars DEI Summit succeed? It appears it did: Post-event participant measures of satisfaction and interest in continuing the work exceeded 90 percent. Furthermore, despite the macro disruptions of the last few years, participants have kept two of the task forces active and have produced a white paper promoting racial equity as an investment criterion. What’s more, responses to a follow-up survey conducted two years later suggested that the summit helped 100 percent of the attendees better advance their DEI efforts. In terms of business results, Caesars meetings and conventions found the Summit performed at least as well in developing business as its prior (non-ESG-related) events. The Summit was also a procurement department success.

“Supporting our key vendors with their DEI initiatives strengthens our partnerships,” says Jessica Medei Rosman, SVP of operations and executive associate to the CFO. Medei Rosman, who was involved in the 2019 DEI Summit from its inception, further explained that the Summit allowed vendors “to be better partners to us by helping us meet our broader goals around economic inclusion and second-tier diverse spend.”

Most indicative of the success of the 2019 Summit is that, despite Migita’s departure from Caesars, a second DEI Summit was held in April 2022. It, too, was well received. 90 percent of survey respondents gave it an overall rating of five out of five, and plans are underway for a 2023 summit. Heather Rapp, Caesars’ SVP of CSR, says the best is yet to come: “We’re excited to continue to partner with such an illustrious group of organizations to help make social justice the norm in corporate America.”

The Caesars DEI summits are a superb example of what I’ve termed “job purposing” — defined as making meaningful contributions to others or societal causes as part of regular work. In this case, the sales function was “purposed.” Caesars demonstrates that helping other departments job purpose is a promising pathway to dramatically augmenting a company’s ESG work — and, thus, its positive societal impact.