by John Trybus, Managing Director

Actions speak louder than words.

We’ve all heard that phrase before, but it bears repeating in a corporate social responsibility context.

Actions speak louder than words.

Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Communications and Government Relations Jan Jones knows a thing or two about leading through actions.

This week’s social strategist is not only in charge of all the communication-linked activities (here’s a sampling: CSR, government and community relations, media relations, corporate communication and employee engagement) that occur at the entertainment, gaming and resort company powerhouse but she’s also the former Mayor of Las Vegas.

Talk about an amazing career journey! You’ll hear much more about her experience as mayor in our interview.

To Jan, actions are the key piece in activating CSR programs that will strengthen a company in all ways possible. “Corporate social responsibility defines who a company is,” Jan says quite simply. “I think for any company it’s incredibly important to define not only what you do but who you are,” she continues.

It’s about creating a ‘company of consequence’, as she puts it. It’s about not just selling products or services – but using the platform a profitable and iconic company provides to benefit society as well as the bottom line. Mutual benefit is possible.

Here’s a preview of the ways in which Caesars has evolved into a company of consequence through Jan’s leadership:

  • Make codes and commitments but don’t rely solely on them. From the company’s Code of Commitment to Code Green to a proper sustainability report, Caesars and Jan believe that putting pen to paper (or website) is important when making a firm commitment to socially responsible business practices. Commitments must be communicated but cannot stand alone.
  • Bring CSR to life by walking the talk. While codes are valuable, CSR principles must be brought to life by living them.  Sure, that’s easier said than done but it must be the end result for which to strive. “It’s one thing to make a statement or write a code of commitment but it’s another thing to live it,” Jan explains. “We work toward driving all of the elements of that corporate social responsibility ethos down through the company.” One key ingredient to do this is through executive support.  Says Jan: “It has to start at the top. Your CEO and your senior management team has to always be talking to their teams about the importance of living the principles of the code of commitment.”
  • Empower employees to be the CSR heart of the organization and then extend that love to external audiences. If you need convincing that employee engagement is a win-win for all parties involved, than quite frankly you are behind the times. “I think there’s nothing more important (than engaging employees in CSR),” Jan says. “It’s not just about having a job – it’s about being part of an organization where you’re proud.” When successful, this employee pride then trickles out externally. “It’s very important that not just your customers – but your employees and then elected officials and community – feel that the company is a responsible citizen and that you’re going to bring value add to a community.” But it starts with employees.
  • Lead with CSR during expansion. From 53 casinos on 5 continents, and 44,000 hotel rooms, almost 1,000 restaurants, over a million square feet of meeting space and thousands of hours of entertainment programing from the likes of Celine Dion and Elton John among others, Caesars is one big company and looking to get bigger. Jan says another proof point for the power of CSR is its value as an action-oriented platform when looking to expand. “We look to be high profile in our communities,” she explains. “Especially when we are looking to expand we lead with corporate social responsibility.”

I also asked Jan about what the future of CSR holds in her opinion. Here’s what she had to say:

“I really feel that the role of CSR is going to move into much higher statures within organizations. Key executives are beginning to see that it is integral to your growth and success on so many different levels. A comprehensive corporate social responsibility story must be aligned with a company’s operation and marketing strategies – they are not separate and distinctive but rather clearly aligned and equal in importance and value.”

She adds: “More and more people will make decisions about where they buy, what they buy and how they buy by taking into consideration who a company is and how the company conducts yourself.”

Creating a company of consequence matters.

Listen to my interview with social strategist Jan Jones to learn more about the Caesars Entertainment Corporation’s approach to CSR, how the gaming industry can be responsible and what it’s really like to be mayor of not just any city – but Las Vegas.