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Gaming Guru

 

Area Casino Industry Demonstrates Commitment to Diversity

23 July 2003

This evening, the Detroit/Windsor Chapter of the Casino Management Association will honor five industry leaders with its prestigious "Visionary Award" for their commitment to diversity. The four area casinos: MotorCity, Greektown, MGM Grand and Casino Windsor, have each developed programs which serve as a model for other businesses in our region that are truly committed to diversity.

Josephine Avery, the Director of Human Resources for MotorCity Casino helped forge a partnership between the MotorCity Casino and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to collaboratively develop a seminar entitled "Cultural Diversity and Civil Rights Law." To date, over 2,300 MotorCity Casino Associates have attended this seminar. The seminar was developed as a proactive initiative demonstrating Ms. Avery's genuine desire to provide an enjoyable and comfortable work environment and fosters respect and value of others. Rhonda Cohen, General Manager of MotorCity Casino, recognized Jo's accomplishment by stating the following:

"Jo has continually demonstrated her unwavering commitment to remove barriers and encourage acceptance. For all these reasons, we are proud to publicly acknowledge her contribution to improved diversity practices at MotorCity Casino and in our community."

Lester Pourciau, Vice President, Human Resources for Greektown Casino, helped with a diversity initiative for Greektown Casino, which has adopted diversity as a core value of the organization and its "key to success." Diversity is a mandatory training issue for every new team member at Greektown Casino. The highlight of the training is an activity that allows Team Members to experience the feelings that result from being excluded, and conversely, the feelings that result from inclusion. Each person leaves the training with an understanding of how diversity positively impacts the bottom line as well as a personal action plan for promoting a positive work environment.

Norman Dillard, Vice President of Food and Beverage for MGM Grand Detroit Casino is heading the diversity efforts at that facility as its first "Diversity Champion." Norman is a member of the MGM Mirage Diversity Committee which was developed as part of a diversity initiative that began in 2002. MGM Mirage believes that the key to a successful diversity initiative is support from the top down. MGM Mirage prides itself in its diversity within the ranks of its executive committee and within all its employment ranks. To date, more than 400 supervisors and executives have attended diversity training. Additionally, MGM Mirage is developing a program for its other employees. MGM Grand Detroit also concentrates its diversity efforts toward working with minority suppliers. In 2002, more than 70 percent of goods and services were purchased from minority Detroit-based, Detroit resident, small business and women owned businesses. Mr. Dillard has noted that he feels a market-driven sense of urgency to continue to accelerate MGM Mirage's diversity efforts at all levels.

Casino Windsor and CAW Local 444 are committed to creating and supporting a workplace where every employee can enjoy the benefits of diversity as well as an environment free from harassment and discrimination. As a result of this commitment, Barb Kane and Catherine Heffernan were responsible for developing and delivering a program to create increased awareness among employees and provide employees with tools necessary for addressing any issues in the work place related to harassment and discrimination. This program is known as "Working Together - Respect in the Workplace."

The program incorporates a new policy for the Casino on harassment and discrimination relating to the Ontario Human Rights legislation. It also contains valuable exercises related to diversity and what is and is not harassment and discrimination. Also addressed is how stereotypes become discrimination when acted upon and how to work together to create a respectful workplace. There is an additional component to this training specifically for managerial staff to define their obligations. The program concludes with a customer service component tied into recognizing how our stereotypes and first impressions can make or break a customer service experience.

The two individuals that were true visionaries for the development of this program were Barb Kane, Manager, Human Resources Development, and Catherine Heffernan, Manager, Labour Relations.

All four Detroit/Windsor Casinos have made enormous strides in playing a leadership role in embracing diversity. Notably, these four businesses have all also been enormously successful - even in the face of a difficult economy. The lessons are clear for all businesses. Not only is embracing diversity the right thing to do from a societal, moral and ethical point of view, it is also smart from a business perspective. All five individuals are truly deserving of the Casino Management Association's Visionary Award for their visionary achievements.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com