There are 35 million more reasons not to terrorize your workforce with a founder who treats his workforce like a singles bar.
Today’s example: Wynn Resorts.
I’ve written about Wynn before and shine a spotlight on them in my book The Arsonist In The Office . The high-end gaming company with interests both in the U.S. and Macau had been on a rapid ascent until the world realized what other gambles Wynn’s founder, Steve Wynn had been making: that is, bets on whether he’d ever get caught for his non-stop sexual harassment of employees.
Wynn’s acts, chronicled various reports in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, had become institutionalized within the Wynn Resorts corporate culture. His Human Resources department served as his private enforcement arm against any employees who took issue with Wynn’s sexcapades.
In 2017, Wynn’s efforts to keep the lid on his antics failed as #MeToo just started to gain traction. Wynn was forced out and various remaining staffers, including his ex-wife Elaine Wynn, sought to clean up the toxic swamp he created.
But this wasn’t the end of the problems.
Just yesterday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission fined Wynn Resorts $35 million for not disclosing sexual misconduct accusations against Wynn at the time (2015) the company filed its application for a gaming license for its soon-to-open $1 billion resort in Boston, MA.
As is the case in many toxic workplaces, covering up bad acts is rampant. This episode, exposed by the release of numerous internal documents from Wynn Resorts showed that numerous executives hid information from the MGC regulators.
There are lessons for all levels of an organization to learn in a case like this, but one key area of focus should be on the board of directors at Wynn, who clearly showed a disregard for dealing with Wynn’s behavior. Board members need to worry about an organizations culture, as stories can affect the financial standing, legal liability, ability to attract and retain good employees and productivity of organizations. Board members who look the other way because of their board slots (and probably cool casino suites with great views) are forgetting their fiduciary responsibility.
The $35 million loss by Wynn is a lot more that a bad night at the Blackjack table. It’s time for organizations to extinguish their arsonists–whether they’re in management or if the arsonist is the company founder.