Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 56° Cloudy
News >  Business

MGM chief executive rips ‘hypocritical’ investors on diversity

Tourists view the water fountains at the MGM Resorts International Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 25, 2018. (Bridget Bennett / Bloomberg)
Tourists view the water fountains at the MGM Resorts International Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 25, 2018. (Bridget Bennett / Bloomberg)
By Christopher Palmeri Bloomberg

MGM Resorts International has increased the number of women in management and invested in solar panels to power its casinos. Chief Executive Officer James Murren says investors don’t care enough.

“I find it very hypocritical that investors talk about wanting companies with a good conscience, but they’re really looking for companies that are going to make them a lot of money in the stock,” Murren said Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Business of Equality Summit in New York. “They talk a good game, but they don’t invest with their integrity at the forefront. I think there’s a huge problem there.”

MGM, the largest owner of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, trades at a lower multiple of earnings than rivals Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts, Murren said.

“People aren’t differentiating between the culture we’ve developed,” Murren said. “If they are, they’re not weighing it the same as how much money do you make in Macau.”

Murren, 56, has emerged as one of the more progressive leaders in the casino industry. A lifelong Republican, he supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The company owns a women’s professional basketball team, the Las Vegas Aces, and this year released an album of love songs reimagined for same-sex weddings, which didn’t go over well in Mississippi, where the company owns a casino, Murren said.

The industry was a “good old boy network” when he joined 20 years ago, said Murren, a former casino analyst recruited by the company’s billionaire founder, Kirk Kerkorian. Murren said he began promoting more women managers and equal pay after being inspired by his wife, Heather Hay Murren, a onetime consumer-products analyst at Merrill Lynch, and “how much harder she had to work” than her male counterparts.

One-third of MGM casino presidents are women, up from zero in 2000, Murren said. Some 44 percent of managers overall are female, and 68 percent of employees are minorities.

Corporate clients looking to book meetings appreciate some of the company’s efforts to improve its environmental consciousness, Murren said. Leisure travelers don’t seem to care, something that hasn’t discouraged him.

“We’re going to do it anyway,” he said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.