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Mar 01, 2018

Three Ways Corporate America Can Advance Gender Equity on International Women’s Day and Every Day

by Margaret George

March 8 is International Women’s Day, celebrating social, economic, cultural and political achievement for women. In honor of this day, Caesars Entertainment is sharing the perspective of Jan Jones Blackhurst, one of our inspiring female leaders, on how companies can advance gender equity.

The recent surge of the #MeToo movement is not a discovery of a new problem, it’s a long-needed vocalization of an issue that’s always been omnipresent in women’s lives  Finally women who have been victims of harassment can come forward without fear of cultural alienation or even being fired for using their voice. I believe there are some core ways business leaders can combat sexual harassment while also addressing its root cause: the enduring lack of equality and equitable distribution of power between men and women.

  1. Create a Strong Zero-Tolerance Culture

When women experience the abuse of power in the form of sexual harassment, fear of retaliation can make them hesitant to speak out. But how to create an environment in which women (and men, too) who are subject to harassment aren’t afraid? I believe the onus is on the company to foster a culture of zero tolerance for intimidation, including that of a sexual nature. At Caesars Entertainment, that’s the culture we do our best to create for everyone, from our guest room attendants to our corporate office employees to our entertainers.

Companies small and large should outline concrete steps to be taken if those boundaries are crossed, which ideally leads to workplaces in which employees can feel safe, protected and empowered.

  1. Set Goals and Measure Progress

In an industry where we have 50-50 representation at the entry level, but less than 22% women at the executive level, we’re taking a first step by addressing manager-level and above employees. By striving to achieve 50% women among our corporate- and casino/hotel-level managers by 2025, we will establish a strong pipeline of female leaders, set up to break the industry’s glass ceiling.

Until companies are willing to set bold goals and actionable plans around gender equity, there isn’t a way to hold people accountable to their role in achieving equity. Another useful way to advance diversity and inclusion is through the introduction of something like Caesars’ new Equity Councils at the Corporate and Regional levels, which are taskforces of leaders, guided by external experts, who will help implement our gender equity initiative and support activities such as the rollout of unconscious bias training across Caesars management teams.

  1. Live Your Values

Supporting women in business means advocating for those beyond the walls of any given company. For example, procurement executives can look to their supply chains, or IT leaders can establish behavioral expectations among partners. Why not ask about the percentage of women at the manager level? And what about at the executive level?

Ultimately, we need a gender equity and equality index similar to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, which evaluates companies based on how well they support LGBTQ employees. There are 609 companies on the 2018 list, including Caesars Entertainment. I’d love to see corporate leaders striving for a spot on a similar, gender-focused index – because it takes changing policies and practices to improve scores on lists like these.

Jan Jones Blackhurst, Executive Vice President, Public Policy & Corporate Responsibility, Caesars Entertainment