RAINBOW PERFECTION: Trio of Las Vegas hotels get top scores for LGBTQ inclusion

Las Vegas casino operators have already proven their spirit of generosity — a recent American Gaming Association-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study outlined the companies’ commitment to philanthropy. Now, an index from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, has given a trio of Las Vegas casino companies the highest marks for inclusion.

The foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, outlined in a 130-page report released March 28, said 571 of 892 companies and law firms, including 193 from the Fortune 500, had perfect 100 scores for LGBTQ inclusion. A record number offered transgender-inclusive health care policies, the foundation said in a statement announcing the results.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., MGM Resorts International and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas scored 100 on the index; the foundation rates them as Best Places to Work for LBGTQ Equality. (LGTBQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning or Queer.) Though scoring less than 100, Wynn Resorts Ltd. and the Tropicana Las Vegas also made the rankings.

The data for the index, in its 17th iteration, derive largely from a survey administered to hundreds of major global employers. In all, the foundation invited 2,205 midsize-to-large companies (with 500 or more full-time employees) to join the survey.

The index rates companies on three “pillar” criteria: nondiscrimination policies across business entities; equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families; and support of inclusive culture and corporate social responsibility.

The foundation said this year’s index showed 16.8 million U.S. workers have corporate nondiscrimination policies shielding them from sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination. Also, 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies surveyed have policies prohibiting hiring discrimination based on gender identity, up from 3 percent in 2002.

Furthermore, the foundation said, more than 170 top businesses — including 110 with top index scores — support the Equality Act, bipartisan legislation that would add comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. 

“The Corporate Equality Index taps into the competitive nature of business,” Beck Bailey, acting director of the Human Rights Commission’s workplace equality program, says by email. “We are used to thinking about this natural competitiveness driving improvement and innovation with respect to products and the marketplace but it also drives innovation for employment practices and talent management. This is a win-win for companies and workers.”

It was the 12th-straight 100 index score for Caesars Entertainment. Jan Jones Blackhurst, Caesars’ executive vice president for public policy and corporate responsibility, says in an email interview that her company has had a long commitment to equality and inclusion.

“As an employer, Caesars follows a ‘Code of Commitment’ that was introduced in 2000 and leads the gaming industry in making a public pledge to our employees, guests and communities,” Blackhurst writes. “When it comes to our team members, our commitment is to treat them all with respect and to provide satisfying career opportunities.”

In August, Caesars Entertainment announced new domestic partner benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex employee partners, including long-term disability, life insurance and medical plans. Also, she said, the company has led advocacy around relationship recognition and antidiscrimination on a state and federal level, backing the Equality Act, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and Nevada transgender antidiscrimination bills.

Tony Gladney, vice president of national diversity relations for MGM Resorts International, said his company, which received its eighth straight 100-index score, is devoted to diversity and equality.

“We’re trying to make sure these policies are more than what we do, they’re who we are,” he says. “We want to be the preferred employer of choice and the preferred destination of choice. We have visitors from all over the world.  It’s important for us to have a diverse workforce. We’re making sure our policies are a reflection of our customer base.”

Gladney says MGM Resorts has long been committed to LGBTQ equality, offering health benefits to same-sex employee partners since 2004 and offering same-sex weddings in its properties since 2000, years before same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, and recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as a constitutional right. Also, he says, the company altered its supplier and construction diversity program in 2011 to include LGBTQ-owned companies.

Furthermore, Gladney says, MGM Resorts has sponsored the Las Vegas PRIDE Parade and Festival for 12 years and has been a presenting sponsor of the parade for the past several years.

It was The Cosmopolitan’s sixth consecutive year with a 100 score. Chief People Officer Daniel Espino says diversity and inclusion have been part of the hotel-casino’s practices since it opened in 2010. The company has always, for example, offered health benefits to employee partners of either sex.

“It’s really important for us to reflect the culture we’ve been building from when we opened, that reflects what The Cosmopolitan is all about — that we are and we serve people from various cultures and various backgrounds and various beliefs from all over the world,” he says. “In the same way, we don’t see our workers as workers, we see them as individuals with passions who all bring something unique to The Cosmopolitan.”

Espino says up-and-coming age cohorts, including millennials and Generation Y, expect their workplaces to be diverse and inclusive. Therefore, inclusionary policies help The Cosmopolitan attract and retain a talented staff.

“It’s critical to our success to welcome any individual from any background,” Espino says.

Bailey of the Human Rights Campaign says that although more companies have altered their policies and achieved top index scores, the battle for wider LGBTQ inclusion will continue.

“Companies continue to lean in with respect to diversity and inclusion work,” Bailey says. “All companies, even those with a 100 percent score, need to continue to do the work of overcoming implicit bias to continue to improve their workplaces and the day-to-day experiences of LGBTQ employees.” 

To offer feedback on this story or suggestions for future stories on Las Vegas Newswire, contact Managing Editor Steve Bornfeld at SBornfeld@lvcva.com.

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