Women’s History Month serves as a recognition and celebration of the accomplishments, contributions, and achievements of women everywhere. International Women’s Day (March 8) sometimes spans an entire week.
But workplace equality is tough to achieve in just the month of March alone.
Jacqueline Grace, senior vice president and general manager of Tropicana Atlantic City, spoke with Play NJ about how the gaming industry is supporting gender equity, diversity, and inclusion all year long.
Grace, 44, has been with Tropicana’s parent company, Caesars Entertainment Inc., for more than a decade. She began her career in casino gaming at Bally’s Atlantic City. Grace was named SVP/GM of the Trop in September.
The following is a transcript of her Women’s History Month interview with Play NJ. Questions and responses have been edited for clarity.
AP Photo/Wayne Parry
Play NJ: What do Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day mean to you, as both a woman and a leader?
Jacqueline Grace: It represents an opportunity for everyone to stop and reflect on the contributions that women have made to society. I think, as a leader, in particular, it’s an opportunity to look at what women leaders have accomplished. And then, to also think about the work that’s still to be done to help other women develop and reach their personal and professional goals.
Play NJ: What are some of the things you are working on at Tropicana to promote and support women?
Jacqueline Grace: Caesars Entertainment has had a long-term commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. And as part of the new company (Eldorado Resorts acquired Caesars Entertainment in 2020) they’ve essentially doubled down on their commitment. They have invested time and resources to ensure that we are making equity and inclusion a priority. So, there will be a focus on things such as unconscious bias training. We are further rolling out lean in circles throughout the organization. We are also deploying what we call BIGS, or business impact groups. All of those things are what the larger organization is doing and that trickles down to what we will be doing at Tropicana.
Play NJ: Does the gaming industry provide enough opportunities for women to advance into leadership roles or beyond? Are there things the industry could do better?
Jacqueline Grace: Yeah, I think the opportunities are there for sure. I think the things that I outlined, that we are doing as a company, are the things that our organization and I’m sure other organizations have recognized are tactics that will help us improve on opportunities for women in leadership. And (they help) for women to even be able to see themselves as being able to aspire for those senior roles. I think we’re doing the things that would open up the pipeline even more.
Play NJ: Are there any instances in which having women in leadership roles during the coronavirus pandemic has been advantageous to the casino industry?
Jacqueline Grace: I don’t want to lean into gender stereotypes. I will say, just in general, having diversity and diverse perspectives in any industry are going to help you have a better outcome. So that is a kind of a guiding principle. But, to answer your question more specifically, the one thing that I perhaps can point to (is) this notion of the pandemic within the pandemic. One of the things that the pandemic has highlighted is the disproportionate impact on women, on working women, in particular … So, for that particular issue, I do think women perhaps may be more aware that that is something that needs to be addressed and are willing to take that on.
Play NJ: What have the last six months been like at Tropicana?
Jacqueline Grace: The team here at the Tropicana is amazing and I feel really fortunate to work with a group of passionate professionals who just care about this business. That said, trying to manage these businesses through a pandemic is challenging and all of us have had to manage through that. We are incredibly optimistic about what we’re seeing right now. We are seeing people starting to come out a little bit more than before. We’re seeing an increase in visitation to Atlantic City. We’re seeing an increase in hotel rooms being booked. Those are all positive signs. Right now, we’re all gearing up and we are ready to welcome customers back … as restrictions continue to be rolled back. So we’re excited and looking forward to the summer.”
Play NJ: How close is Tropicana to being at pre-pandemic employment levels?
Jacqueline Grace: As the businesses continue to open up, customers return and restrictions are rolled back, we will have even more opportunity to bring people back. We’re looking forward to that.”