Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s three Atlantic City properties are hoping to increase women’s roles in leadership through an organizational initiative geared toward equal gender representation.

The Gender Equity Initiative, which was launched in 2017 in partnership with the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, was created to increase representation of women in leadership roles and above by 2025. Among the company’s U.S. markets, 43 percent of manager and above roles are held by women.

“Caesars’ Atlantic City resorts — Bally’s, Caesars and Harrah’s Resort — are currently ahead of the national average in terms of gender equity, with 40 percent of our female employees in manager roles and above,” said Karie Hall, vice president and general manager for Harrah’s Resort. “From areas like food and beverage to marketing, finance and casino operations, we are seeing more female team member representation overall and especially in leadership roles here.”

Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice president of Caesars Entertainment and former mayor of Las Vegas (1991-1999), said the company made a “significant commitment” to implementing the initiative. Jones Blackhurst said Caesars was in the process of evaluating and measuring its current operations in order to successfully implement the gender equity plan, but the company has already introduced several steps — such as four weeks paid-family leave and equitable benefits for all employees — toward its ultimate goal.

“So, we’re not just looking at how we measure and change the representation, but we’re looking at what policies we need to adapt to make our work environment friendly, where people want to come and want to stay and want to make it a career,” she said.

Jones Blackhurst said the program has engaged employees, regardless of gender, because the process and the results are easy to embrace.

For one, she said the company remains a meritocracy where qualified, capable and deserving employees are recognized. Second, and more importantly for the company’s investors, the move is profitable.

“We looked at properties that already had more diverse representation at higher levels of management and found that they outperform on multiple metrics,” Jones Blackhurst said. “So there’s a business case to be made. And we’re continuing to monitor and assess that because it’s one of the big drivers that makes everybody want to be a part... You want to do this right. You don’t want to run in and just start hiring for numbers. You want to make sure you have the quality, you have the best people, and that your movement is in the best business interest of the company. That’s why we’ve given ourselves until 2025. We think we may get there earlier, but better to do it thoughtfully and right than to just do it to do it.”

Hall, the senior executive at Harrah’s in Atlantic City, said the changes are apparent at the resort’s properties.

“We think our customers and key stakeholders in our community have already noticed a difference, and this initiative will only have a more positive impact moving forward,” she said. “Our customers can walk in any of our restaurants right now and see a female executive chef or general manager running those restaurants. In addition to myself, our heads of finance, legal, and marketing for our region are all women.”

Ellen Mutari, a professor of economics at Stockton University and co-author of “Just One More Hand: Life in the Casino Industry,” said the initiative was “important and timely” and one that she hoped would “set a trend for the industry.”

Mutari said Caesars has an opportunity to be a leader for the casino gaming industry but noted this was only a “first step.”

“I would encourage them to explore other important aspects of gender equality and inclusion affecting working women, including examining the relative pay of gender-segregated occupations (equal pay for work of comparable value),” Mutari said. “Work-family balance is a critical issue, as is second-hand smoke at the workplace for women of childbearing age.

“And, finally, in this #MeToo moment, they should examine sexual harassment and the commodification of women’s bodies within the industry.”

Contact: 609-272-7222 Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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