“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” These are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose legacy Caesars Entertainment and its affiliates celebrated by participating in the 2016 King Week Festivities in Las Vegas.
Dr. King’s question is one we ask ourselves a lot at Caesars. How can we run a sustainable business that has a positive social impact in the communities where we work, visit and play? One way we do that is by being active in community efforts such as King Week, where we honor civil rights heroes like Dr. King, reminding us why it’s critical to engage with our people and our local communities.
“Caesars Entertainment is once again thrilled to have a presence at the King Week festivities. Our involvement is a reflection of our commitment to supporting our diverse communities, employees, guests and suppliers,” said Caesars Entertainment Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, Regina Ford. Ford oversees diversity initiatives across our entire enterprise as well as community relations with diversity organizations.
The 2016 theme of this year’s King Week Festivities was "Living the Dream: The Movement Continues!” and several Caesars HERO and CHORUS volunteers walked in the 34TH Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade on Monday January 18, joined by families and friends. Las Vegas hosts one of the largest MLK parades in the country, with thousands of people lining the streets to see over 100 parade entrants, including local officials, non-profits, businesses, dance groups and marching bands.
Caesars also helped to sponsor the King Week’s Annual Scholarship Banquet, hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee of Las Vegas, a local non-profit. The event is a fundraiser from which partial proceeds are used to provide financial assistance to students attending college through the scholarship program of the Committee. This year’s banquet raised more than $5,000 toward the scholarship fund thus far. This total will continue to grow throughout the year as additional MLK fundraisers are held.
Katie Martin, co-chair of EQUAL – Caesars LGBTQ Employee Group, said of her experience, “My mother went to Central High just after the Little Rock Nine. My dad is in a biracial relationship, and I am a member of the LGBTQ community. To walk in the MLK parade was the least I could do to honor Dr. King’s work and to support civil rights for all. It was fulfilling to get to interact with such a diverse crowd of smiling parade spectators.”
King said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” This speaks to why we ask our employees to give back and volunteer in their communities at events like this one. In 2014 alone, our employees clocked nearly 200,000 volunteer hours with local service organizations, the highest we have ever recorded. We empower our employees to be leaders in the communities we serve through our HERO program.
Our commitment to diversity doesn’t just extend out into the community, but looks inward as well, where we aspire to foster an inclusive workplace and culture. In 2014, 41 percent of our management in the U.S. was women, while 57 percent of our employees were from minority groups.
We also have a strong supplier diversity program that encourages minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, disabled and economically disadvantaged business enterprises to maintain their "diverse supplier" certifications and continue doing business with us. We were recognized for our supplier diversity efforts, with Caesars leaders being awarded the Corporate Supplier Advocate of the Year in 2015 by the Woman's Business Enterprise Council - West Region, Partner of the Year in 2015 by Western Region Minority Supplier Development Council, and the 2014 Rasmussen Award by Chicago MSDC.
But we know there is more work to do. So we will continue to look to the examples set by leaders like Dr. King, who stood up boldly for equality, diversity and human rights, to inspire us on our journey.