Last year, in celebration of Juneteenth, we launched the Penn Diversity Committee to help put our company’s longstanding stance on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into action. I am proud to Chair the Committee and am honored to work alongside a diverse group of team members at varying levels in our organization from around the country.
As this year’s Juneteenth celebration approaches, we wanted to provide you a progress report on the comprehensive new diversity initiatives our Company has undertaken since the launch of our Diversity Committee.
- In March we launched the Penn Diversity Scholarship Program for the children of our Team Members. The program focuses on equity in higher education by providing financial support to our underrepresented Team Members and their children. In 2021 we awarded 58 scholarships across our enterprise totaling $1,050,000. More than half of these diverse awardees represent the first generation of their families to pursue higher education, which is significantly above the national average. This statistic echoes our commitment to create pathways for our Penn family to achieve their dreams.
- We also committed to increase our recruitment efforts and support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Our increased efforts have yielded results. In 2021, 20% of our Leadership Excellence at Penn (LEAP) interns attend HBCUs. We have also committed to strengthening relationships and supporting neighboring HBCUs within our properties’ regional footprint.
- In 2021, we increased our support for organizations in our communities promoting equality and justice and continue our culture of giving by encouraging our team members to donate their time and energy to help support the change needed in their communities.
- Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and restrictions on gatherings, we maintained our commitment to Increasing the number of minority business networking events we host each year. In Q4 of last year we launched our very first virtual regional minority vendor fair in Illinois. This event touched several vendors and will serve as a template for how we will launch similar virtual and in-person events companywide.
- We continue to be committed to the growth of these minority-owned businesses. In 2021 we launched a pilot for the Penn Minority Business Incubator. This program will not only identify potential new minority suppliers, but assist them in growing their businesses. We look forward to sharing the success stories from the incubator as the program evolves.
The Penn Diversity Committee has worked hard over the last year to bring our goals to life, but no goal is more important than the continued commitment to listen and learn from our team and community. To this end, we launched companywide “Days of Listening” in May. These events created an opportunity for our team to talk, but more importantly, for us to listen. The feedback and learnings from these days will serve to drive our focus for the remainder of 2021 and beyond. We continue to believe that actions speak louder than any words and hope from the progress we have made, are actions are being heard loud and clear.
Senior Vice President, Regional Operations – Executive Sponsor