Monday, October 26, 2015

7 examples of inspiring corporate citizenship

It's that time of the year again when I share with you the publication of Caesars Entertainment's annual Citizenship Report. This time the selected theme is "Inspiring Citizenship." Inspiring because citizenship inspires Caesars employees to perform their roles in the business with citizenship in mind. Inspiring because as Caesars employees engage across a host of activities to advance society and preserve the environment, they inspire others. This is the sixth annual Citizenship Report by this leading gaming-entertainment company and the third that I have been proud to work on. It's the third G4 core report, and covers performance in 2014 with stories through part of 2015.

It's always hard to summarize a report that contains a wealth of information about so many aspects of the company's operations. At Caesars, whether it's about Responsible Gaming, employee engagement, charitable giving, sustainable sourcing, policy activism or another topic, the report covers the ground. I've had to work really hard to limit this post to just 7 examples of how Caesars creates and gains value through inspiring citizenship to give you a flavor of what you can learn from the Caesars report this year.

ONE: Contributing to economic development 
Each year, Caesars has loads to tell about the way its core business actively advances economic development wherever the company operates. This is more than just doing business; it's doing business in a way that's designed to make a positive impact. In Baltimore, for example, in a year of operation, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore supported tourism with a big welcome to more than 2 million guests, created almost 2,000 jobs, hired more than 66% of the workforce from the within city limits, and established an ongoing community program with support for more than 45 social organizations through donations and >800 hours of employee volunteering time. Through Horseshoe Baltimore, Caesars has provided opportunity for many small businesses who have set up shop in the casino’s food court and has partnered with celebrity chefs including John Besh and Aarón Sanchez to bring Johnny Sanchez to Baltimore for an upscale dining experience. In its inaugural year, Horseshoe Baltimore contributed to developing local prosperity for the citizens of Baltimore though paying more than $42 million in taxes (casino companies are one of the most highly taxed businesses in the U.S.). In fact, overall, Caesars generates $5.9 million of contributed value for its communities for every $10 million in revenue, triple the estimated average of U.S. corporations. 

TWO: Transforming resorts and tourist venues  
When Caesars invests in new facilities, it invests in a big way, making a difference to the value and appeal of cities and resorts that need a boost. This is the case in the Las Vegas where Caesars has invested nearly a billion dollars in the heart of The Strip with the addition of The LINQ and the High Roller, the world's tallest observation wheel.  In Atlantic City, Caesars has just opened up a new $126 million conference center project, the Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, that is already attracting big events and has bookings through 2019. 
THREE: Encouraging employees to be well 
Caesars has for years maintained one of the most extensive award-winning wellbeing packages for employees available in the market. Employees are incentivized to look after their own health and wellbeing by taking advantage of the benefits that Caesars provides through the Wellness Rewards program. Caesars employs 28 qualified WellNurses that are stationed at Caesars properties throughout the U.S. to help care for employees. Employees who participate in wellness activities earn two things: they feel better, get more out of life and are more productive at work AND they save money - up to $3,600 per year for themselves and their partners in tangible rewards through the program. This benefits Caesars who saves millions of dollars in medical plans and it benefits society as the healthcare burden of cost is significantly lower. The program has delivered tangible outcomes to date in terms of lowering health risks across Caesars employee base.

FOUR: Preserving the environment 
Caesars' CodeGreen strategy established in 2007 includes environmental targets as well as other social targets. On the environmental side, Caesars continued to make progress, achieving cumulative reductions in resource usage, exceeding several targets for 2014 and 2015.

In early 2014, in the light of strong performance, Caesars updated long-term targets and added new 2020 targets for energy, GHG emissions, water and waste diversion. This also includes a commitment to science-based climate change targets for 2020 and 2025 to reduce GHG emissions per 1,000 airconditioned sq. feet by 30% and 40% by 2025 respectively on a cumulative basis against a 2007 baseline. This is industry leading performance to date and industry-leading commitments for the future.

FIVE: Engaging employees in citizenship 
One of the things that Caesars does tremendously well - and having worked with Caesars now for a few years I experience this first-hand in the conversations I have with people from all around the company - is inspire employees to contribute to making the world a better place. Employees are invited to take part in a range of CodeGreen activities - far too numerous to mention here (you will have to read the report ;-)). However, one of the highlights I did want to mention is the recognition for employees who work so hard for their communities. In the 2014-2015 Citizenship Report, Caesars celebrates outstanding employee HEROs. HEROs is Caesars employee volunteer program that offers a host of opportunities to get involved in community causes, including those supported by the Caesars Foundation. In 2014, Caesars started a new peer and manager HERO Stars recognition program for HEROs and seven employees were selected and honored in the first cohort. Actually, in 2015, after the Citizenship Report was published, three of these HEROs were invited to Caesars Client Educational Experience Week in  Atlantic City to take part in one of Caesars Meeting and Events Team's week of meetings involving community volunteering with customers. A fabulous way to recognize and reward employees whose dedication and investment in local communities is unwavering. In the 2014-2015 Citizenship Report, Caesars celebrates these HERO Stars.

SIX: A leading light  
Every company needs a leading light to drive corporate citizenship activities, in addition to a committed CEO, and at Caesars, passionate and unwavering inspiration for great citizenship comes from Jan Jones, Executive Vice President of Communications, Government Relations and Corporate Responsibility. A former Mayor of Las Vegas, Jan is very present in supporting Caesars' citizenship strategy and guiding the reporting process. She is outspoken on behalf of Caesars on important matters of public policy, including immigrant rights, LGBT rights and healthcare. Her delight was tangible when in mid-2015, the U.S. Supreme Court published a breakthrough ruling to make same-sex marriage a fundamental right across the country. Jan immediately published her support on behalf of Caesars Entertainment, emphasizing the relevance this ruling has for businesses and workforce diversity and inclusion. Perhaps it's no surprise that with Jan at the helm, the Caesars workforce includes 41% women managers as a total of all mangers, 57% employees from minority groups and 36% of employees over the age of 50 - a diversity record to be proud of.  

SEVEN: Gwen  
The final highlight of this report is mainly behind the scenes. Gwen Migita, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Citizenship, is the one who tirelessly makes it all happen, driving CodeGreen, community partnerships, employee awareness and engagement and reporting. Always with an eye on the big picture, Gwen works at a level of detail and precision to move corporate citizenship forward at Caesars with determination, skill and boundless passion. Want to know a little more about what makes Gwen tick? See these two recent interviews: the first from April 2015 in the Guardian Sustainable Business where Gwen talks about coming out at work and the second from Fortune Magazine from May 2014 with ten questions to Gwen on sustainability and social justice and more.  If you don't have someone like Gwen in your company, you need to. Every company needs a Gwen. 

Finally, as always, take a look at Caesars 2014-2015 Citizenship Report. Give feedback!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise Guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen)  or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm).  Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine:  

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