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Doing the Right Thing

The value of corporate social responsibility

Recently, I came across some interesting statistics that could dramatically impact your business. First, almost three-fourths of the consumers in America are more likely to do business with companies that contribute to their communities through charities, volunteer work and environmental stewardship. Second, an equal percentage of U.S. workers prefer to work for a company that supports charitable causes and acts in a socially responsible manner.

The commercial casinos understood this long before such initiatives became popular. In fact, even in the early days of gaming’s expansion, industry companies were recognized by President Bill Clinton for their leadership in creating programs that helped people on welfare return to the workforce. The industry was also among the early adopters of cutting-edge water and electric efficiency systems, and has always supported large-scale community volunteer programs. To date, commercial casinos are responsible for making billions of dollars in charitable donations and for conserving millions of kilowatt-hours a year.

Because of these significant and positive philanthropic contributions, in 2012, the AGA is highlighting the corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts of commercial casinos. This column is part of a coordinated effort to encourage the broadest possible implementation of CSR programs within the gaming industry, and by those who benefit from and support the gaming industry. Earlier this year, the AGA launched the “All In” campaign in an effort to highlight the significant CSR contributions of commercial casinos and our employees.

This year-long effort will showcase the gaming industry’s successful efforts in four key areas of CSR: philanthropy, environmental sustainability, responsible gaming and diversity. Throughout 2012, the AGA will highlight each of these four key areas through activities timed to coincide with existing national or industry events covering these topic areas. In addition to coordinating industry-wide activities, the AGA plans to release original research papers quantifying the industry’s efforts related to many of the CSR areas.

We also are launching a new section of our website devoted to CSR, featuring employee stories from across the industry, resources to help companies create, augment and measure their CSR programs, tool kits to aid participation in “All In” campaign activities and more.

The first component of the campaign is called “All In for Giving & Volunteering,” and will focus on philanthropic efforts, including corporate and employee charitable giving and volunteerism.

There is no doubt that volunteer programs like the ones featured during our events really matter. According to the HandsOn Network, an organization that specializes in volunteerism, 72 percent of working Americans and 87 percent of working students older than 18 would choose to work for a business that supported charitable causes instead of one that did not, when deciding between identical job offers. The same source shows 56 percent of Americans think workplace volunteer opportunities improve employee morale.

A similar study conducted by United Healthcare found that employees are more likely to be more satisfied with their jobs if they are encouraged to participate in work-related volunteerism, and they are significantly more likely to rate their overall satisfaction with their lives as “very good” compared to non-volunteers. In other words, volunteer programs make employees happy, and happy employees are almost always more productive employees.

In addition to improving employee morale and productivity, CSR programs also improve profits. A recent national survey commissioned by the AGA and conducted by VP Communications found that consumers care deeply about CSR. As I said earlier, an overwhelming percentage of those who responded agreed that CSR programs are vital to their perceptions of a company. Seventy-three percent of respondents answered it is of “high importance” that businesses be active in the community and work to protect the environment and the Earth’s natural resources. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that a company’s activities in the community and efforts to protect the environment have a “high impact” on whether or not they spend money with that company.

More results from this survey will be published by the AGA in a white paper released at the launch of “All In for Giving & Volunteering” during National Volunteer Week (April 15-21). The paper also will attempt to quantify existing corporate and employee giving and volunteer efforts throughout the commercial gaming industry. Our goal is to release such measurements on an annual basis in an effort to better track the gaming industry’s philanthropic contributions.

National Volunteer Week is a time for gaming companies across the country to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of their employee volunteers, as well as participate in volunteer projects timed to coincide with the industry-wide effort. As I mentioned earlier, the other key CSR areas—environmental responsibility, responsible gaming and diversity—will be highlighted later in the year.

I am confident the “All In” campaign will further illustrate the gaming industry’s leadership in this arena. It is our intention to spark even greater efforts in CSR not only because it is the right thing to do for our communities, but because it is important to our employees and our customers alike. We invite you to join us in the effort.

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