MGM Chief Executive Rips ‘Hypocritical’ Investors on Diversity

(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 at Bloomberg’s Business of Equality Summit in New York on Tuesday. “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 Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd., 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, something that didn’t go over well in Mississippi, where the company owns a casino, Murren said.

Inspirational Wife

The executive, a former casino analyst recruited to the business by the company’s billionaire founder, Kirk Kerkorian, said the industry was a “good old boy network” when he joined 20 years ago. 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, Murren said he began promoting more women managers and equal pay.

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.

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