G2E: Wynn executive talks about women creating change Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · October 15, 2019 at 7:01 pm Even a Global Gaming Expo session Tuesday morning called “Powerful Women Affecting Powerful Change” couldn’t completely avoid the news that broke late Monday that Nevada gaming regulators are seeking to ban Steve Wynn from the casino industry. The panel featured Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman Sandra Douglass Morgan, the body that filed the Monday complaint alleging Wynn is “unsuitable to be associated with a gaming enterprise or (the) gaming industry as a whole” based on allegations Wynn sexually harassed employees. Morgan wasn’t asked about the issue during the panel discussion and wouldn’t address it afterward. She shared the panel, however, with Ellen Whittemore, executive vice president and general counsel of Wynn Resorts, who made several veiled references to it when asked about creating change in the organization. “Those who have read a newspaper in the last year-and-a-half know there have been a number of changes at Wynn Resorts, most of them initiated by our CEO Matt Maddox and our President Craig Billings,” Whittemore said. “We (now) have four women members of our Board of Directors, and we are in the top 10 percent of Fortune 500 companies with leadership of women. We have revamped our policies to prevent sexual harassment and we’ve (introduced) paid parental leave. There’s been a litany of efforts that have been made over the last year to make Wynn Resorts the employee of choice, and it’s really started to pay off. “We’re very proud we’ve been designated a great place to work.” Whittemore went on to talk about how, on a personal level, she can effect change by “taking another step forward” and avoiding complacency. “In my position, I have a voice at the table,” Whittemore said. “There are three of us executive officers, two men and myself. There’s a dynamic there – they are both Type A personalities, smarter than heck and quite a bit younger than I am. I have to step back and not big-sister them or mother them, and that’s hard sometimes.” Whittemore said she has worked with Wynn’s human relations and legal team to come up with new programs that “can advance it a little bit further.” Having the full support of the Board of Directors and executive team to make those incremental improvements makes the job easy, she said. Moderator Roberta Perry, senior vice president of business development with Edwards Technologies, about how crisis can drive change and how women bring unique experiences in handling crises. When she joined the Wynn organization, Whittemore said, she had already spent years as a gaming regulatory attorney, starting in the Nevada Attorney General’s office representing the Gaming Control Board. She has since been in private practice representing many large gaming companies licensed in Nevada and has dealt with regulatory crises over the years. “I knew what I was stepping into, but I was also very calm about it,” she said. “I wasn’t there when the crisis was created… I think being a woman helps the calmness. I think we have a calming effect sometimes. To a certain extent, my age was helpful. I have lived through a whole lot in my life (and) everything turned out OK. Maybe it’s not how you want it to turn out, but at the end of the day you look back at all of those experiences and say that worked out exactly how it was supposed to. “I just know that women have that capability. I don’t know if men have that capability, whether they continue to dissect what went wrong. That’s a generalization, but… none of those calm men work for me.” The remark prompted laughter from the audience.