Wynn's inaugural Diversity Week, hosted by Glenda Swain, Wynn Resorts vice president of diversity and inclusion, featured a Town Hall with new Raiders president Sandra Douglass Morgan, the first African-American woman to be president of a National Football League team. Three hundred employees turned out to hear Morgan—who, at the time of the talk, had only been with the Raiders organization for six weeks—speak on inclusive leadership.
Swain told the gathering, "One thing I wanted to drive home is that [diversity and inclusion] is not as polarizing—or it shouldn't be as polarizing—as people make it. There are many other things we could connect on as human beings that have nothing to do with race, or gender or sexual orientation."
In his introduction of Morgan, Wynn Resorts CEO Craig Billings said, "I am infinitely fascinated by people who have also grown up, thrived and grown their careers in our community," he said. "That is the case with today's guest, Sandra Douglass Morgan, from the halls of Eldorado high school to the Gaming Control Board and now to the halls of Allegiant Stadium."
Morgan, who attended University of Nevada, Reno and later UNLV Law School, told the crowd her father retired from Nellis Air Force Base and that her mother worked at bygone casinos such as Showboat, Landmark and Imperial Palace before retiring at the Santa Fe, and that her parents placed a high value on education. Her professional career led her to executive roles with The Mirage, City of North Las Vegas, AT&T Services, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the Nevada Gaming Commission and later, the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Asking the question, what are the tenants of inclusive leadership and how can it move an organization forward, Swain asked Morgan to share her valuable insights.
Here are eight takeaways from that conversation in the words of Morgan.
"I try to be very thoughtful and deliberative when I make any decisions. The Raiders are an international brand. Once a Raider, always a Raider. There's a 'Commitment to Excellence.' We have the most loyal, hardcore, diehard fans. We're also now in a different city and in a different state. I'm hoping to have an opportunity to expand our fan base and look at other markets where we're able to expand as well. That comes down to communication, leadership and having a strong team behind you.
"I really want to grow internship programs—this experience is something that I didn't have growing up here. It's a real, true opportunity for us to grow the next generation of sports leaders and executives in Las Vegas."
Perseverance and Grit
"Perseverance and grit are really important. There always are going to be challenges. You come in with a game plan, and you want to stick to that and you have rules, a roadmap, but nine times out of 10, it's not going to go as planned. Are you willing to pivot? Are you willing to adjust? Are you willing to lean on your team and delegate and see the best traits in the people around you.
"I think it takes time to get to know people and their skill set. We're here to work. We're here to win. I do think when you realize what motivates people, what triggers people and in which environments they are able to thrive—that's when, if there is a crisis, or when there is trouble, you know who you can lean on and who you can delegate to and really make things happen.
"Once you have that moment, which I'm sure many many of you have, you realize you can take on anything and have it in your gut to trust in yourself. Every time I have an issue, I lean on that same thing."
"It's important to know your employees and your leaders. To know what's expected of them and to be able to communicate what they expect of you. Do it consistently. Do it often. Be honest. As soon as that trust is broken, it's difficult to lead a team. When I come into a new organization, whether it be as the chairwoman or as the president, this is me, this is what I'm about and I expect you to hold me accountable. I will do the same for you. We all have different leadership styles. Not one thing is best for everyone. I am open and I am direct. That may be because I'm a lawyer by trade. I'm used to duking it out in the courtroom with someone but then you leave, and you go have a drink with them after the afterward. You're not taking it personal, but you're really sharing how you feel, or you're advocating.
"I have always said this to anyone that I've managed, 'I want to hear what your position is, I want to hear from you, to have a recommendation, especially if you're in leadership. But if I don't agree with you, that's okay. And I'm going to tell you why I don't agree with you, and then we're going to move on.' I think being open with them lets it be known that if I don't agree on something or if there's an issue, I'm going to tell them first and I'm not going to tell someone else.
"People want to hear and see your vision so that they know that what they're doing everyday is aligned with what we want, which is commitment to excellence.
"Going into a new organization, temperature checks are important. I may have this list of lofty ideas that I think are going to be amazing and I probably could execute in a month. But if the employees don't understand it and why I want to do it, it's set up for failure. Being thoughtful, deliberate and communicating, to me all goes back to inclusive leadership."
The Meaning of Inclusivity
"It's not necessarily just race, sexual orientation or gender. It's about the person being human, an individual and seeing how you can connect with them. That's my philosophy."
The Human Touch
"When I stepped down from the Gaming Control Board, it was during COVID. I didn't have a chance to really say goodbye to a lot of people face to face. I received more comments via email, saying, 'I really appreciated when you asked about my son, when I saw you in the restroom.' Random things like that, mostly from women. It wasn't, hey, 'I really appreciate that regulation, you passed.' It was more comments on thank you for being respectful and acknowledging me or remembering my name."
"One thing I want to mention that I've seen through studies and my conversations with other women is that it's the ability to push yourself—maybe if you don't fit that job description to a tee—take a chance and try it. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work out. But you learn something through that experience. I continue to push myself. I had to challenge myself to at least try it and do it. Go in optimistically thinking that it will work. But if it doesn't, that's fine. You move on and to try something else. But women don't apply for positions if they don't meet every single qualification. I don't want to generalize and say women, but there are studies that show that women are less likely to apply for a position if they don't tick every single box. And I just want to say, don't worry about hitting every single box, just go for it. Try it. The worst that you can hear is no and you pivot, you adjust and move on to something else."
"It's giving people opportunity and finding non traditional candidates to do roles and be successful in them. The Raiders have a long legacy of inclusion. I benefit from that because the people who are brought into the organization understand that and know what's expected of them. Working together moving forward and not being seen as though this is a position you're getting because of your race, gender, religion, or orientation, you're getting the position because you're qualified. Maybe you look a little different or have been recruited from a non-traditional sect, but that doesn't take away from your value or your ability to perform in that position. I do a good job and do what's best for the Raiders. And my work will will speak for itself. But I'm also always going to encourage everyone to be inclusive, have their eyes open and be good allies to people.
It's very easy to leave this room—and we all do it—if it doesn't affect us individually, we go about our lives. If it's going to happen to that person, it can happen to you next. We really have to be good community stewards look out for each other, knowing that if we do that it all comes back to having a good workplace, having a good work environment and increasing productivity, which is always good for business."
Success Is Defined As ...
"... making every Raiders employee, every stadium employee, anyone that does business with the Raiders, know that they're partnering and a part of an organization that believes in them, believes in their future and believes in Las Vegas. For them to know they're going to be a part of an organization that is going to do right by them, while also making sure that we're one of the most profitable teams in the NFL. Bring some stability, but also growth, in a very strategic but responsible way."