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Rod Smith

MGM Mirage Puts Diversity in Spotlight

21 April 2004

Diversity in the gaming industry was the focus of attention again Tuesday as MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni released the company's 2003 diversity report.

Also Tuesday, Caesars Entertainment launched its new procurement Web site to make it easier for minority- and women-owned businesses to do business with the company.

Because of the importance such industry giants attach to the diversity issue, the American Gaming Association is wrapping up work on an online diversity guide, scheduled to launch later this spring.

Gaming association Senior Vice President Judy Patterson said the new online diversity guide would let member companies share ideas on hiring and doing business with women-, minority- and disadvantaged-owned businesses, just as they now can in dealing with the issue of problem gambling.

It will also make it easier for individuals and companies to wade through procedures for doing business with companies in the gaming industry, she said.

MGM Mirage announced its diversity program in late 2000 after civil rights leaders complained that the company was not doing enough business with local minority contractors.

Lanni said his company is continuing to make steady progress in hiring a diverse work force and doing business with minority-owned, woman-owned and disadvantaged-owned businesses.

However, he also assured a crowd of about 400 gathered for the release of the third-annual diversity report that MGM Mirage will not displace any capable white males from their positions or break any contracts with white-owned companies to ensure diversity.

"We can't afford to ignore talent in anyone who may demonstrate it," he said.

As a result of its initiatives, Fortune magazine last year ranked MGM Mirage 31st out of the 50 best companies for minorities, Lanni said.

"Such distinguished accolades stimulate us," Lanni said.

He pointed out particular progress with the company's 2003 initiative to increase minority contracting.

In 2003, the company reportedly spent $308.6 million on construction projects, of which $37 million was spent with minority-, women- or disadvantaged-owned businesses, compared with $13 million in 2002.

Similar, but more modest progress, was also reported on all phases of the company's hiring and contracting measurements.

Lanni invited questions, comments and criticism from the audience, but got little of the criticism he has received in previous years.

Generally, about 20 representatives from national and state organizations and small businesses that do business with MGM Mirage praised the company for its program, for its annual report and for releasing data on its progress.

"We take praise well. Don't hold back," Lanni joked with the friendly audience.

One small-business owner, Pam Washington who owns A-1 Janitorial Services, however, complained that his business with MGM Mirage has not grown and that the contracting officer responsible, whose office her company cleans, has not been responsive.

"Lock his drawers, throw a few things away and you may get his attention," Lanni joked.

However, other audience participants who acknowledged Lanni's rapport throughout the company, made it clear that similar complaints voiced in previous years had actually all been acted upon quickly and effectively.

MGM Mirage Puts Diversity in Spotlight is republished from