Please briefly introduce yourself – including your name, title, and company.
– My name is Shahid Holmes and I am the Director of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion for Las Vegas Sands Corp. I have lived in Las Vegas for 26 years and worked for the company for over 18 years.
1. Tell us more about your corporation/business and how you got into it.
– Sands is the world’s leading Integrated Resort developer and operator, propelling high-value business and leisure tourism from North America to Asia. Sands established the convention-based Integrated Resort with the opening of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas in 1999. Today, our footprint spans eight properties in Macao, Singapore and Las Vegas – each contributing significant economic impact to their home communities. I’ve been a Team Member since 2002, starting as a front desk agent, and am proud to have grown up, both personally and professionally, with the company. I’m fortunate to have had the guidance of great mentors through various roles in hotel operations and exceptional leaders in the procurement department, which I joined in October of last year.
2. What is the current state of affairs where you work? (Yes, this is general, but this is a place for you to set the stage for our understanding of who you are to your industry or workplace.)
– The current “state of affairs” is a little more complex than usual for the company, due, chiefly, to the sale of our Las Vegas resort, but our mission hasn’t changed – we continue to look for ways to create positive impacts by providing a first-class working environment for our Team Members, delivering extraordinary experiences to our guests and bettering our communities through philanthropy, environmental stewardship and actively promoting inclusiveness through strong partnerships with vital organizations like GLCCNV.
3. What do you see happening in your industry or workplace in the next 30/60/90 days? What about in the long-term: one year, five years, 10 years?
– Short term:
— In our industry, over the next 30-90 days, the hope is that confidence in travel and tourism will increase and the scourge of the pandemic diminishes. We are seeing encouraging trends, so we remain optimistic.
– Long term:
— Sands remains focused on growth, and we see a multitude of meaningful opportunities. We will continue to reinvest in our Asian properties while exploring domestic investment opportunities where we believe we can positively impact those communities with the same core principles under which we’ve operated in Las Vegas for more than 20 years.
— The Venentian Resort Las Vegas will continue to be a best -in-class operation, offering new and exciting MICE, entertainment and food and beverage. We will also continue to drive efficiency by implementing innovative technologies that further enhance the overall resort experience and continue being a firm supporter of the Las Vegas community through active involvement in our various partnerships.
4. In what way does your company (or do you) champion equal rights and representation for and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community?
– Our company culture is rooted in the celebration of diverse perspectives, promotes inclusiveness for all and is propelled to success by the strength of the whole. Because we understand the importance of communication, we sought out this partnership to ensure we’re engaged specifically with our local LGBTQ+ business community; and because we understand the value of transparency, we proudly participate in the Corporate Equality Index. We look forward to learning more about how we can promote increased diversity, equity and inclusion through firm allyship and in continued partnership together.
5. Who is someone you think has been an advocate for diversity and inclusion in your industry or workplace? What positive, helpful, crucial, or impactful contribution have they made?
– It’s difficult to choose a single person because so many of our Team Members are strong advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion and have been actively supportive in their various roles for some time. It can’t be overstated, though, that leadership promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is absolutely critical for successful meaningful integration into a company’s culture.
Through the pandemic, our organization reaffirmed its commitment to being responsible employers and operators, allocating significant resources to protect the employment, benefit, and wellbeing of Team Members and guests alike.
Diversity, equity and inclusion have always been important, from our Team Members, to the jurisdictions in which we operate, to the communities we support within those jurisdictions. It’s important to celebrate and build on the things we do well, but even more vital to look honestly at how we can improve our efforts to be corporate champions for diversity, equity and inclusion, then genuinely commit to a course of action. Support for organized diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives cascaded from leadership, permeating every level of our organization, and with this momentum we were able to create and implement a comprehensive strategy to:
— Benchmark our efforts and set immediate, near-term and long-term diversity, equity and inclusion goals
— Obtain Team Member feedback through surveys, focus groups and diversity-centric trainings
— Increase our already-robust community engagement efforts
— Ensure corporate policies and practices promote inclusiveness throughout our organization
— Broaden our financial impact by promoting and expanding diversity, equity and inclusion within our supply chain
So, I credit all those who have, and continue to, promote diversity, equity and inclusion independently in their roles and I am also grateful to our leadership for driving meaningful change, providing focused direction and allocating resources to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion endures as an essential pillar of our business.
6. What is something that the general public perhaps does not understand about operating in your industry at this moment?
– A common misconception I’ve heard from guests is that Las Vegas is strictly about the party… the glamour, the glitz, the image, and that the locals all live a particular lifestyle on or near the Strip. There’s no shortage of any of those things; some locals do live on the Blvd., and there’s nothing wrong with those realities. That’s how we market ourselves as a city, and Vegas achieves “bling” better than anywhere else. But what’s often overlooked is, that’s not the only reality, and it’s more the exception than the rule. Behind the scenes are extremely hardworking people with a multitude of skillsets doing their best to ensure that Monday – Thursday we can be the No. 1 meeting and convention destination in the country, and Friday – Sunday we’re the entertainment capital of the world. The beating hearts of these massive multibillion dollar resorts are the tens of thousands of mostly unseen heroes that ensure the health, safety, security and comfort of our guests. The people who maintain the buildings, make the beds, polish the floors, sanitize the restrooms, disinfect the slot machines, make the reservations, prepare the meals and serve “Instagrammable” moments up on a platter, then clean up after the selfies have been posted.
7. Why did you join the chamber?
– Sands is being intention in our partnerships, working with impactful organizations who have been effetely advocating for historically marginalized, underrepresented members of our society. David Nasser, Executive Director of Procurement, and I wanted to be the liaisons for this partnership because we firmly believe in our company’s commitment to promote fully inclusive collaboration. Our organization recognizes the struggles and contributions of the LGBTQ+ business community, and their voices are essential in the supplier diversity, equity and inclusion conversation; GLCCNV amplifies those voices for Nevada, and we support you in doing so. We’re listening and looking forward to turning what we hear into potential opportunities for sustainable growth together.
Bonus: Would like to offer your contact information for follow-up questions about your industry, new contacts and potential collaborations?
– David Nasser, Executive Director of Procurement – email@example.com
– Shahid Holmes, Director of Supplier D&I – firstname.lastname@example.org