M Life Spring 2013 : Page 94

COMMUNITY Rock, Inspire & Admire THE TEAM AT MGM RESORTS TAKES TO THE STAGE FOR A HIGH-ENERGY SHOW SET TO SPARK CHANGE. G B Y P J P EREZ iant, inflatable globes bounced around the Mandalay Bay Events Center on a Sunday afternoon as thousands of people poured into the venue, ushered to seating designated by the colored wristbands on their arms. The booming bass of party music filled the arena, getting the swelling crowd pumped for what was to come: a world-class musical spectacular – not one featuring Broadway stars or Grammy Award-winning artists, but rather, the audience’s own co-workers. “The goal was to get the message of what it means to be a Diversity Champion out there and the second was getting everyone on the same page of our ‘one company, one culture’ message, sharing the mission of our company to engage, entertain and inspire.” Approximately 40,000 MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas employees experienced this uplifting production show, Inspiring Our World: A Musical Journey , during several repeat performances, bringing to fruition an idea that was born about a year and a half earlier on the laptop computer of Patty Coaley during a drive to California. “I was a dancer growing up here in Vegas,” said Coaley, the Director of Diversity Training for MGM Resorts. “In the 1980s, that’s really when we first started getting cases of HIV and AIDS, when we actually knew people who were dying from that disease. And we got together as an entertainment community to put on an event called Golden Rainbow. I had the opportunity to co-direct that show, and when I went to see the 25 th anniversary of Golden Rainbow, they featured a number 94 | M life where they had people stand up and talk about how HIV had affected their lives.” Not long after that anniversary show, Coaley was asked what MGM Resorts was doing to bring the organization’s diversity message to its front-line employees. During a desert drive, it occurred to her to put the two concepts together, and she instantly started outlining a diversity show that, like Golden Rainbow’s Ribbon of Life production, would deliver an important message through entertaining songs and dance numbers. “First and foremost, the goal was to get the message of what it means to be a Diversity Champion out there,” Coaley said, “and the second was getting everyone on the

Community

Pj Perez

Rock, Inspire & Admire

THE TEAM AT MGM RESORTS TAKES TO THE STAGE FOR A HIGH-ENERGY SHOW SET TO SPARK CHANGE.

Giant, inflatable globes bounced around the Mandalay Bay Events Center on a Sunday afternoon as thousands of people poured into the venue, ushered to seating designated by the colored wristbands on their arms. The booming bass of party music filled the arena, getting the swelling crowd pumped for what was to come: a world-class musical spectacular – not one featuring Broadway stars or Grammy Awardwinning artists, but rather, the audience’s own co-workers.

Approximately 40,000 MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas employees experienced this uplifting production show, Inspiring Our World: A Musical Journey, during several repeat performances, bringing to fruition an idea that was born about a year and a half earlier on the laptop computer of Patty Coaley during a drive to California.

“I was a dancer growing up here in Vegas,” said Coaley, the Director of Diversity Training for MGM Resorts. “In the 1980s, that’s really when we first started getting cases of HIV and AIDS, when we actually knew people who were dying from that disease. And we got together as an entertainment community to put on an event called Golden Rainbow. I had the opportunity to co-direct that show, and when I went to see the 25th anniversary of Golden Rainbow, they featured a number where they had people stand up and talk about how HIV had affected their lives.”

Not long after that anniversary show, Coaley was asked what MGM Resorts was doing to bring the organization’s diversity message to its front-line employees. During a desert drive, it occurred to her to put the two concepts together, and she instantly started outlining a diversity show that, like Golden Rainbow’s Ribbon of Life production, would deliver an important message through entertaining songs and dance numbers.

“First and foremost, the goal was to get the message of what it means to be a Diversity Champion out there,” Coaley said, “and the second was getting everyone on the same page of our ‘one company, one culture’ message, sharing the company’s mission to engage, entertain and inspire.”

Approximately 900 volunteers and 70 cast members from MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas resorts and corporate offices worked on Inspiring Our World, which was designed to communicate the company’s core values of teamwork, integrity and excellence, as well as all the pieces of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, including the Green Advantage, the Diversity Champion workshop and various giving programs.

“There are a number of studies about how organizations can help their employees to bring their hearts, not just their heads, to work,” MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said when opening the show. “My observation is that employee engagement is a two-way street. If an organization – a company – wants employees to be engaged – then it has to first be engaged.”

Reflecting the diversity of the organization and its employees, production numbers ranged in style from inspirational pop music and African tribal rhythms to classic American show tunes and dance-inflected hip-hop. All of the show’s songs and lyrics – save for “I Know Where I’ve Been,” adapted from the musical Hairspray – were written by MGM Resorts’ employees, with some assistance from a few nonemployee friends.

What wasn’t scripted, however, were the unexpected, emotional testimonials of employees who overcame adversity and stereotyping in their lives. Presented during the “United Through Diversity” segment of Inspiring Our World, these five very personal stories were bravely shared on stage with co-workers and invited guests who attended the various performances, and every single one of those tales made real, emotional connections with the audience.

Coaley knew these testimonials would be a centerpiece of the production, but finding the right people and the right stories wasn’t an easy task. Auditioning singers, dancers and musicians is one thing, but finessing provocative, diverse tales from people willing to share them required a special approach.

“We really didn’t hold auditions for it,” Coaley said. “We knew we had the roles and we auditioned for singers, and then we would just start talking to them, asking if they had been to the Diversity Champion workshop. They would either say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and then we’d ask, do you recall the stereotype process? Now tell us, who are you really?”

One of the testimonials, however, came out during the audition process without any prodding. Michelle Love, head concierge for Mandalay Bay, recalled on stage the story of being pulled out of line for a flight and told she would be required to purchase an additional seat due to her weight. Since that devastating incident, Love has changed her lifestyle completely and lost nearly 80 pounds. But the pain of the airplane episode still resonated when she auditioned for the show.

“Michelle actually auditioned with that piece,” Coaley said. “She spoke and sang and the words of the songs backed the way she was feeling during that experience. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when she auditioned.” In the months since Inspiring Our World debuted, Coaley said that not only has the feedback about the production been overwhelmingly positive, but she’s noticed some unexpected effects in the community.

“We invited some people to come who don’t work for our company,” Coaley said. “One of the people who saw the show brought a family member, and that person was so moved by the diversity piece that it changed her belief system and the things that she would say or do to other people who were different than herself. And when you hear stories like that from people you didn’t even know were going to hear your message, you realize there is a ripple effect out there. We don’t know all the lives we’ve touched.”

Inspiring Our World will have the opportunity to touch more lives as it comes to MGM Resorts’ regional destinations at MGM Grand Detroit, Circus Circus Reno; and Beau Rivage and Gold Strike Tunica in Mississippi. Some of the Las Vegas cast and crew will travel to these other cities, but new cast members from the individual resorts will join them.

“I think the stories resonate most when they come from co-workers,” Coaley said. “Everybody has a story. It’s just a matter of if you’re willing to share.”

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Community/1344214/150727/article.html.

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