As a lifelong advocate for LGBT communities and the advancement of equal rights for everyone, I was ecstatic to hear of the Supreme Court’s decision to make same-sex marriage a fundamental right across the country. Obergefell v. Hodges forever will be remembered as evidence that “love wins.”
Exciting as it is, marriage equality is just the beginning. On July 24, Congressional Democrats introduced the Equality Act, which would protect all Americans from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This legislation is an update to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and would offer protections in employment, education, housing, public accommodations and where discrimination has been prohibited for other protected groups of people. For example, same-sex couples now can marry in all 50 states, but they don’t have employment protections in 28 states. That would change under this bill.
We at Caesars Entertainment support the Equality Act. However, we can’t rely on the political process alone. After all, it’s unclear whether Congress will take on this legislation. So it’s important that we all take action and leverage the momentum of Obergefell v. Hodges to ensure equal rights extend to everyone.
For us, that means workforce diversity and inclusion, which we believe are the keys to continuing the positive impact of the court’s decision. It’s not only the right thing to do, it positively affects business performance. According to the Harvard Business Review, research provides compelling evidence that a diverse employee base unlocks innovation and drives growth. And according to McKinsey & Co., Fortune 500 companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.
At Caesars, we want our team to be as diverse as the people we serve. We are proud that more than 32,000 employees (57 percent) are from minority groups, that women make up 41 percent of our management team and that we’ve earned a perfect score in the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index for eight years in a row. Our insistence on hiring highly qualified team members who reflect the rich diversity of our communities represents a true advantage.
Moving forward, my hope is that Obergefell v. Hodges is more than a landmark ruling for the LGBT community. I want its greatest legacy to be equality realized for all Americans. Personally, I’d like to see a purposeful push for gender pay equity and more diverse corporate boards.
Regardless of the issue, merely hoping for change won’t make it happen, nor will relying on governmental legislation alone. It takes all of us working together — individuals and organizations — to make true equality a reality for everyone.
Jan Jones Blackhurst is executive vice president of communications, government relations and corporate responsibility at Caesars Entertainment. She is a former two-term mayor of Las Vegas.